It was still dark when the dog and I got to the beach. There was a mist coming off the water that painted a soft gray line between the hills — black against a dark sky — and their black reflection in the dark water. There was a little haze, but the stars and a sliver of a moon were out, in the sky and again on the water.
I made the dog stop and look. She’s more interested in sniffing than sky watching, but she indulged me. Orion was lying on his side, low in the eastern sky, and a barred owl was hooting.
It was still dark when we got back home, but the sky was a shade lighter and the stars dimmer. The goats were milling about their yard, preparing for their morning breakout. After those weeks of rain their fenced-in yard got so soggy they decided they prefer being pegged in the yard during the day. So at first light half of them leap, one by one, over the fence and wander up to the front door to find out what’s going on. I pull out our collection of leashes and peg them around the yard for a day of grazing.
Everyone’s pretty happy in these last days of summer. The garden is yielding produce by the bushel, or laundry basket, or bucket or flowerpot — whatever collection unit we have nearby is soon filled with potatoes, cucumbers, turnips, carrots. The broccoli sideshoots are nearly as big as the real heads of broccoli were. The sweet peppers and eggplants, which I had practically given up on, are suddenly in full production. Under all those leaves in the late-planted winter garden are butternuts and watermelon, growing and ripening.
At the same time, the garden is ending. We pulled up the zucchini and summer squash plants. I’m picking the last of the beans and pulling up plants as I go, heaving them over the fence for the goats to eat — at least those who stay in their pen. The winter roots — rutabaga and storage radishes — are almost ready to be pulled up. Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are still coming.
There’s still time to plant spinach and maybe some late lettuces in the newly cleared rows.
Inside, we’re making pickles and jam; next week it will be salsa time. Six or seven of the goats are milking, so we’re making cheese a couple of times a week and kefir every day. The hens have finally gotten over their broodiness, so we’re getting eggs again.
This abundant harvest time means one thing: Fall is on its way, and winter not far behind. The household Floridian already is complaining about the cold and worrying about how much wood we have, an annual event. We’re rating this year’s garden and talking about next year’s.
It’s been a good summer. The rain, the heat, the sunshine — all of the weather, all of the flowers, all of the vegetables. We’ve been busy all summer, but there has been time for long walks and a few mountain hikes, and visits to and from the kids and from far-away friends. The days have been long and lovely, and we filled them.
Greenpoint appears every other Sunday. Look for it next on Sept. 15. Reach Margaret Hartley at [email protected] or @Hartley_Maggie on Twitter. Opinions expressed in Greenpoint are hers and not necessarily the newspaper’s.