17 September 2012

Bringing in the harvest

Little Bear and I spent much of the past week or so at my parents' house, giving them a hand as they frantically harvested everything left in the garden and tried to put it up before winter strikes. It won't be long now: there is a layer of frost on the windshield every morning, and the clouds scudding across the sky are looking more and more like snow.

 Thursday, in particular, was exciting. Armed with shovel, 5-gallon bucket, and very dirty hands, I waded into the carrot bed. My siblings helpfully informed me that they'd seen voles scurrying in and out of the carrots, but they were sure that they'd scared the rodents away. Gee, thanks. I put the voles out of my mind and settled in to dig carrots and enjoy the beautiful afternoon.

It really was the perfect day: sun blazing down from a cloudless blue sky, the smells of mouldering leaves, woodsmoke, and freshly turned soil mingling in the crisp autumn breeze. Schick, thud. The shovel turned over one section of soil after another and I sifted through it for carrots, snapping off the feathery leaves and shaking loose clinging soil before dropping them in the bucket. The actions slowly became rote, and my mind wandered as I worked.

Five square feet into the bed, I came across something unusual. At least 20 tiny carrots, sans tops and taproots, were lying horizontally about three inches below the surface. What happened here? Did the dog disrupt this part of the bed before the carrots were fully grown? It didn't seem quite right, but they were certainly still edible. I began scooping them up, and was surprised to see that the pile went another couple of inches down. Carrot, carrot, carrot, carrot, baby vole... Wait, what? Being the stalwart outdoorswoman that I am, I promptly screamed.

Upon further examination, cautiously done by standing as far away as possible and poking gingerly at it with the shovel, it turned out to be not a baby vole but rather a badly misshapen and discolored carrot. (For which reason, if any of my siblings are reading this, our dad is never going to hear this story -- I don't need my kids growing up laughing about the time mommy mistook a carrot for a vole!)

Like this, but lumpier.
My peaceful afternoon thoroughly shattered, I made a halfhearted attempt to continue digging, but was very grateful when one of the kids came running down to tell me that the baby had woken up and needed me!

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