For readers who may not live in the coastal Pacific Northwest…it’s raining out. Not just raining, November raining. The rain that spawns temperate rainforests of water-loving Sitka spruce, Western hemlock, Western red cedar, and Bigleaf maples, whose branches are covered with thick moss, holding the rain like sponges. It’s the type of rain that brings those gentle giants down by saturating the soil where their roots try to hold on while water pours into the earth, loosening even the hardest of clay soils, and moving in rivulets the rich peaty soils of the forest floor.
In our small, old, house with 2×4 framing, thin-glassed old windows, and low ceilings, November rain is a pounding force to be reckoned with, an omnipresent noise, day and night. The barrier between the sheets of falling water and us seems a bit weak-willed. I review in my mind…how old is our roof? Did we leave any unfinished projects at any buildings that might have left even a crack where water could get in? How will the old chicken coop hold up?
Everyone – us, chickens, ducks, are warm and dry…and for the most part staying indoors.
And then it stops. Just when you think it will never stop, when it has rained for at least 48-72 hours, when the weather forecast says 90-100% rain every day in the foreseeable future, the faucet suddenly turns off, the darken sky lightens, and the world opens up.
Going outside after the first good multiple-day November storm is always an awe-inspiring experience. Deciduous trees have lost nearly every last leaf (except our strange peach tree, which has never produced more than a few peaches, yet holds on to bright green leaves until Christmas). There is sky where there has not been sky since early the previous spring. The road noise, drowned out by the rain, is audible again, yet there is a silence when compared to the deafening water that has pounded, like the surf on a beach, and poured for hours. The rainstorm, washing away autumn, has given birth to winter. It is not the same stillness of the first snowfall, yet there is a tangible winter calm to the quiet that follows a robust rainstorm.
Remarkably, with the winter solstice still a month away, darkness increasing daily, and the days continuing to get shorter, there are signs of spring. New buds have formed on the Indian Plum, and on the Flowering Current, which I guiltily pruned today, cutting off many tender buds. It is difficult in the northwest to find a ‘dormant’ time to hack away at plants. With the wet weather and mild winters, the dying back and the budding forth appear seamless in many perennial bushes and trees. Even some early perennial flowers have put forth new leaves, but it is a premature effort, for the first snow or a prolonged freeze will cause them to die back.
It is the lull before the next storm, according to the weather pundits, a much-appreciated lull before feeling buffeted around again by stormy weather. As this week of Thanksgiving, infamous for challenging weather patterns, begins, I am grateful to go out and work in the wet garden, breathing in the clean air as I prune back dead flowers, pull down soggy bean plants, cover the whitened, decaying squash plants with fallen Maple leaves, preparing the hills for next summer’s planting. An appreciated lull to put the garden to bed for the winter.
Acorn Squash Soup
Quarter and bake in a 350 degree oven one acorn squash (any winter squash will do just fine) until a knife goes in easy and there is a little browning on top. After it has cooled, scrap out the meat, cut into chunks, and put in a soup pan. (You can also quarter and steam in a pan on the stove top, this saves time, but if you have the time, baking/roasting the squash in the oven brings out the flavor and sweetness more.)
Add a quart of water (actually I never measure so I’m just guessing on this, might need a little more)
Chop and add:
1/3 cup onion
1 small apple, a tart one is good
¼ cup basmati rice
1 bay leaf
1 t. grated fresh ginger
1 to 1 ½ t. homemade curry powder
Cook until rice is done. Put into a blender in batches to blend smooth. It will have little pieces of apple skin, for a smoother soup peel apple first.
Options: I added homemade almond milk I had on hand, coconut milk is also nice, about 1/3 cup.
Garnish with a dollop of tahini and fresh grated ginger, the tahini adds protein, and a distinctive, richer flavor, but the soup is delicious, and a little lighter, without it.
Ah, it is raining again. Think I’ll go make some soup!
I am grateful you do me the honor of reading my musings! It helps keep my creativity alive!