TEN THINGS I LIKE ABOUT OCTOBER

  1. Foliage. This is New England, after all.
  2. Cool evenings. You snuggle under the blankets, sleeping with the windows cracked slightly open.
  3. Apple Harvest Day outreach. Meet a Quaker’s our pitch.
  4. Mums in pots everywhere.
  5. Butternut squash soup.
  6. My annual survey of Charles Ives symphonies and then George Whitefield Chadwick’s.
  7. Pumpkins as décor … and as crisps and pies. Although we’re rather appalled by its spread into coffee and beer.
  8. Fresh unpasteurized apple cider.
  9. Sitting in the loft of the barn again, reading.
  10. Intense full moonlight.

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What do you like about October?

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Historic company housing for mill workers in Manchester, New Hampshire. I used to enjoy walking through the millyard this time of year.

 

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TEN THINGS I LIKE ABOUT SEPTEMBER

  1. The air turns crystalline. I love the clear blue sky.
  2. Dover Greek Festival. Every Labor Day weekend, fun dancing to a live band and singer. Don’t overlook the food, either. Anyone else know the meaning of kefi?
  3. Kids are back in school. Freedom’s in the air!
  4. Ditto for the crush of tourists. Mostly couples now.
  5. Some of the best days for swimming in the ocean happen this month, if a hurricane doesn’t blast all the warm water away.
  6. The equinox Riversing. It’s a mostly folk-based concert beside the Charles flowing past Boston. Join us if you can. We’re on the Cambridge side of the footbridge.
  7. Anniversary. My wife always gets the date wrong.
  8. Great time to hit the mountains. Not too hot, not too cold, not too crowded.
  9. Wild asters – big asters, too – grace the yard.
  10. More apple picking. We go for the drops on the ground. They’re half-price.

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What do you like about September?

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It’s a great time to get out in the countryside.

 

OUR GARDEN’S MOST PROLIFIC WEEDS

Even with a field guide, weeds can be hard to name. At least in polite terms. As a gardener, identifying them as weeds is easy enough, once they’re past a certain point of sprouting – they aren’t what you’re expecting and they’re growing faster than what you planted. Staying ahead of them is another matter, especially if you’re trying to be organic like us.

Here are 10 that have been especially problematic this year.

  1. Virginia creeper: Initially, it looks like a nice ground cover in a wooded area. Maybe something to climb a tree trunk, too. But beware, it develops tenacious woody roots that can grow six feet a day – that’s not an official measure, by the way, just a sense I have returning to the same site a day after I thought I’d cleared it. This beast nearly took out one of our big shrubs last year. ‘Nuff said?
  2. Bindweed: Another one that can strangle a neighbor in no time. It looks a lot like a morning glory, which can also go rogue.
  3. Creeping Charlie: This little ground ivy and a shiny-leaf cousin take over in no time. One couple two blocks away covered their entire garden in black plastic this year in what we suspect is a futile effort to eradicate it.
  4. Mystery stalk No. 1: It has large leaves and started popping up like crazy in our strawberry bed. New to us this year. Looks like its seeds come at the base of the leaves. Think it’s also the one in two of our potato pots … kinda resembles the young tater plants. At least it was easy to uproot.
  5. Mystery stalk No. 2: This one has nasty-looking jagged leaves and a big fuzzy stalk. Also new to us this year. Can’t find either of these online.
  6. Wild chervil: Looks kind of like Queen Anne’s lace, which we tolerate, but I just read the down and dirty on this deceptive tan flower. It’s going to be big trouble next year. Ouch!
  7. Multiflora rose: Its vines are always a pain, and they take over in no time. For us, they’re often near the equally stubborn Japanese honeysuckle.
  8. Dandelions: My, what taproots! And if you don’t get all of one up, you’ll soon have another opportunity … to fail.
  9. Common purslane: Another one that gained a foothold this year and will be back with a vengeance next year. My wife says I better learn to like it in salads.
  10. Grass: Many varieties invade the garden and squeeze out what we’re growing, but the Bermuda roots and stems have been particularly nasty this year.

TEN TASTY FISH

Living a few miles inland from the Atlantic, I’ve learned a few things when it comes to fresh fish. Just be sure to stock up on lemons and melted butter and maybe a few spices and fresh parsley.

  1. Cod. Once available in unbelievable quantities, it’s become scarcer and costlier. Still, it’s classic – especially as scrod.
  2. Haddock. Makes a great sandwich or flaky fish ’n’ chips.
  3. Monkfish. Like lobster tail.
  4. Dayboat dogfish shark. It’s a favorite in England for fish and chips. A different texture than haddock. Nothing like a little variety, right?
  5. Trout. You don’t have to be near an ocean.
  6. Salmon. Now we’re talking.
  7. Striper, so I’ve heard. This one’s purely for sport fishermen and their friends and family. Or the cormorants and osprey and bald eagles that follow them upriver.
  8. Flounder. We have some good species at hand.
  9. Dabs or American Plaice. Now we’re into a cooperative program to protect the local marine resources through more responsible practices. These less popular but more populous alternatives make for fine fresh eating.
  10. Hake, flounder, pollock, or king whiting. Ditto, ditto, ditto, and, yes, ditto. Depending on the week they come in.

For details on some of these, check out the New Hampshire Community Seafood site. The cooperative’s introduced us to some delicious but largely unknown species that are abundant in our own waters, and it’s devoted to sustainable community.

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When it comes to fish and shellfish, what are your favorites? Any special way of preparing them, too?

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Continuing the poetry parade, see what’s new at THISTLE/FLINCH.

TEN THINGS I LIKE ABOUT AUGUST

  1. High Summer arrives … gloriously, breaking the oppression of July. Days and nights are nearly perfect.
  2. Annual week of sessions at New England Yearly Meeting.
  3. Homegrown tomatoes. Who needs bacon? Good bread and mayonnaise set them off perfectly. I add a dash of Old Bay in memory of Baltimore.
  4. Lobster prices come down.
  5. Same-day corn on the cob. Boil it in the same water before or after the lobster. Eat both in the Smoking Garden, where a mess is quite easy to clean up.
  6. Apples and peaches at Butternut Farm.
  7. Ice cream.
  8. Body surfing at Long Sands.
  9. Two weeks of swimming laps in the city’s 50-meter outdoor pool while the indoor pool undergoes annual maintenance. On my backstroke, especially, I watching for bald eagles in the distance or count the contrails of jetliners heading for Logan – one a minute.
  10. Instead of a profusion of birdsong in the morning, it’s now crickets fiddling in the night, starting a crescendo that will end only with the first killing frost.

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What do you like about August?

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Shriners in an annual parade, Castleton, Vermont.

TEN MORE FAVORITE FLOWERS

Well, I’ve been mentioning some of my favorite flowers in seasonal lists. My wife has really opened my eyes to the range before us. And that means we have enough others to generate a list of their own.

  1. Flax or cornflower. The intense blue.
  2. Echinacea.
  3. Tulips. Memories of Camden, Maine.
  4. Coreopsis. Calendula.
  5. Sunflowers.
  6. Bee balm.
  7. Tithonium. Its intense color is a magnet for pollen-seekers.
  8. Sweet woodruff.
  9. Strawberry blossoms.
  10. Day lilies. Trout lilies.

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What would you add to the list?

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Day lilies behind our asparagus bed.

TEN THINGS I DON’T LIKE ABOUT JULY

  1. Too many days are too hot and too humid. I hate running air conditioning.
  2. Flies and mosquitoes.
  3. Lethargy.
  4. Everything’s sticky.
  5. Mowing the lawn. I’m drenching in sweat all too quickly.
  6. Tourists flock in. Means we stay away from the Maine Turnpike on weekends and the Kittery Outlets altogether. Route 16 to our north can be a parking lot, especially in Conway.
  7. Our water bill from irrigating the garden.
  8. The loft of the barn is a useless oven.
  9. The weeds are winning.
  10. The Sox are probably in a slump. And if they’re not, we’re jittery. We have good reason to be superstitious.

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What displeases you at the moment?

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Japanese honeysuckle. Its runners can grow almost 30 feet a year, and once it’s in place, it can become a very thick knot. Yuck!