All over now but the okra

Olivia Fowler

Olivia Fowler

On The Way

by Olivia Fowler

This summer’s garden is coming to an end. The cucumbers and squash were first to begin and first to end. Tomatoes suffered from excess rain, but our corn loved it. All the different kinds of peppers thrived. We had a good crop of blueberries and enough blackberries for pies. Green beans were late but finally arrived. And we’ll have okra until frost.

But now the bounty of summer is fast fading. Soon we’ll have turnip greens, Swiss chard and maybe kale.

Of all the vegetables, I’ll miss fresh tomatoes the most. I’ll also miss the friendly faces of customers who come each year to buy produce from our front porch market. Most of them take time to talk while picking out produce. Everybody has a story. We’ve heard more news on the front porch than on television, and a good deal of it is much more interesting.

Almost every afternoon this summer found me comfortably settled on the front porch swing with cellphone, glasses, book and a glass of ice tea close at hand and the dogs spread about my feet.

The scale swings from a hook over the bannister, and we keep plastic bags in a waste basket.

Some people want us to pick out their tomatoes. Others prefer to pick out their own. It’s the same with okra. Some folks prefer the long pods, others like the short ones, and still others don’t care but take the short with the long.

We sold 300 dozen ears of corn, added some new customers to the list and collected a number of excellent recipes for pickles, jam and several squash dishes.

Some of our regular customers bring samples of pickles and jams they’ve made for us to try. Don Bronson, a neighbor, customer and friend always shares the finished product. His icicle pickles are terrific. He also gave us the scale we use to weigh up produce. It belonged to his granddaddy, who used to sell produce from the back of his pickup truck near Fuquay Varina in North Carolina.

Don also gives us figs and shares his fig strawberry preserves, which are out-of-this-world good.

Our own fig trees are very late bearing this year. Why, I don’t know unless the rain has affected them.

The end of summer is always a little bittersweet. The children are back in school, and many of the summer flowers are done for the season. We’ve noticed the hummingbirds tanking up at the feeder and the lantana bush before they leave the country. It won’t be long before the pink perfection camellias decide to bloom.

And when that happens we know it’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving and looking for some decent sweet potatoes. We always go to Six Mile for our pecans. It’s a little early for that, but I look forward to it.

Every season brings change, and there’s something special to enjoy about each one. Although we’re kissing summer goodbye we know it isn’t a permanent departure. It’s just going out of town for a few months to make room for winter.