The end of summer is often bittersweet for Alaskans, as the coming fall and winter can be brutally wet, windy, and cold. And dark...don't forget dark.
That sentiment holds truer this summer than normal, as it seems to be the summer that never was. Sure, the birds nested, the flowers bloomed, and the salmon returned to their natal streams to spawn, but it was cold. We rarely even broke the mid-60s, and if it wasn't raining, it was overcast, grey, and dreary. The sun didn't come out very much at all. But here we are; the salmon are running up the streams, the bears are trying to eat as much as they can before winter, the huckleberries are ripe, and the chanterelle mushrooms are popping through the ground, as if by magic.
While fall is often a time for contemplation and winding down into winter and the holiday season, it means different things here in southeast Alaska. It is time to make sure as much food is put up as possible from wild berry products and garden vegetables to fish and deer. Deer season has already opened, but we have until the end of December or January (depending where one resides) to fill the freezer and cupboards. I've been too busy to go even look for a deer, although I know there are several bucks in the vicinity (they've started rubbing their antlers on my rhododendrons....again....).
Around the "homestead", there are still lots of chores to finish before fall storms blow in. The chickens we are raising for meat will be ready in just a few weeks for butchering. There is still a glimmer of hope that the September sun will shine through and ripen the abundance of green tomatoes on the tomato plants. We cut their flowering tips off over a month ago, so the plants efforts into the green fruits has been high. There will easily be enough to can tomato sauces if they can just find the heat to turn red.