The Face of Indian Summer

September is the month when we gardeners are pruning back the skeletons of plants that have nurtured us and that we have nurtured all summer long. Overgrown branches of the plum tree. Forsythia running wild. Trumpet vine shedding flowers, its seed pods drying in the Indian Summer sun, bees scurrying over them for some invisible treasure. True myrtle testing its boundaries, stretching into areas it does not belong. Blue geranium not offering any blue these days. Done. While engaged in all the activities Indian Summer requires I noticed and was intrigued by an equally strong urge, upon which I was acting, to scout out new plants, and to incorporate them into my home and garden. It began, I believe with the heirloom antiqued hydrangea, pictured above, which I annually find impossible to resist when they come into the market. This one begged to be accompanied by the green pumpkin, true harbingers of the fall season now on the horizon.

Most likely this urge to fill in with beauty stems from a reluctance to resign oneself to the end of a summer season, and why should we? Even those in colder climes can resort to investing in a few houseplants to carry us into the holiday season and beyond. My second acquisition, following this impulse, was this jade, now comfortably living in a red pot in the kitchen, keeping the Dog Cookie Jar (filled with dog biscuits, not cookies!) company! So cute. This jade plant, associated with Good Luck, will also be my companion as I mostly likely bake my way through winter. The rain and cold ask for a warm oven, do they not?

Meanwhile, in keeping with the opportunities of the current season, I picked a large bag of apples from the (very) old pre-hybrid delicious apple tree out back. Here they are.

Washed, peeled and cut them up and popped them into a big stainless steel pot, and added some sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg. Bam.

Cooked them down and then tackled a skill I had basically forgotten and had great resistance to relearning: canning. Full credit goes to Sarah Gilbert, a lovely writer of Cafe Mama whom I follow on Twitter, for sending me a video (visual learner) that gave me the encouragement to finally relearn this. Imagine me and daughter Antonia (lending all manner of moral support) pouring over her laptop and my computer reading dozens of applesauce canning recipes trying to find The Real Right Way. Threads of conversation included:

“How do we get the air bubbles out? It says they can explode if you don’t.”
“Excuse me? Explode??”
“What’s this little blue canning tool for? It has notched measurements on one end.” [We finally decided for measuring the space left between the sauce and the top of jar. Maybe.]
“I know we have to boil the jars before we fill them, but for how long?”
“Fingertip tight? We screw on the lids fingertip tight??”
“But how long do we boil the applesauce jars? Fifteen minutes? Twenty?” (Back to the computers.)

It was a long afternoon. I’m not certain I have inspired my daughter to be a canner, but she will remember the event, of that I’m certain.

And here were the lovely results.

I’m game to try again. If anyone has any comments on those air bubbles, we are all ears.

Back into the sun, the garden not to be forgotten or outdone, a new plant caught my eye at Home Depot which I assumed to be a coleus (wouldn’t you?)
and was surprised to find Perilla frutenscens to be quite another plant. And this apparently is one of those plants that in some locales would be found to be an invasive weed and in another (if kept under control) a lovely addition to the garden. I’m keeping a careful eye on it, in a constrictive pot, and it’s blessing a corner of the porch near a lovely rocking bench. I’m admiring its subtle color and lacy beauty of its foilage.

Other fall additions include a plant I always keep in abundance, but usually increase prior to Christmas. Indeed, I probably associate this cyclamen with Christmas as much as I to poinsettia. Do you?

And what Indian Summer Face would be complete without the uncompromising mum?

Enjoy the season, dear readers. Celebrate your harvesting and draw mightily on your own creativity for the holidays which lie ahead.

Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

10 Responses to “The Face of Indian Summer”

  1. What a Beautiful, rich post, mom! It was fun to have a canning day experience with you.. an adventure I won’t soon forget, indeed! 😉

    Love you,

    p.s. that green pumpkin is great! reminds me ever so much of Tim Burton!

  2. It *was* fun to have a canning day with you, Antonia! I so appreciate your support. Next time we will be old hands at it. Hahahahaha. 🙂 Learning is so fun. Love, Mom xoxo

  3. The canning adventure sounds like fun! I have been in the midst of my first canning season as well. So far my sister and i have done Apricot, Strawberry, and Raspberry jam. And plums. Peaches still to come. To get the air bubbles out of our jars we just used that “odd blue thing with the notched measurements on it” to stir around the jar and release the bubbles. I am sure yours won’t explode. None of mine have exploded yet. So…if you were my neighbor I would run over some Jam! Good luck with that canning.

  4. How fun that canning day sounds. Maybe someday I will have a daughter-in-law to cook along with me. Perilla is a very invasive plant here in Texas. I have to be hypervigilant about cutting off the blooms and still it reseeds all over the place. It is so pretty, that I have a hard time weeding it out, but I must.

  5. Good morning, Red Clover! Bravo for taking on canning. Lovely that you have your sister for support! Three kinds of jam is admirable! And were you my neighbor I’d meet you at the door with a big smile and a cup of tea! Thanks for the reassurance about no exploding so far! Kathryn xoxo

  6. Hi, Debbie! Bet one day you WILL have a daughter in law to cook with you. Sounds so right. Thanks for the warning about perilla. I promise to keep it under control! It is lovely, though, isn’t it? Kathryn xoxo

  7. I loved the apple sauce canning story. In my youth, it was an every fall effort and we loved the apple sauce all winter. These days, we usually just make it up and freeze it which is not as romantic but much easier. My rule of thumb was to always try to include at least four kinds of apples. I try for at least one yellow variety and Winesaps, plus whatever comes into the market. When young, we were off to the “pick your own” orchards that abound in central Ohio. Now I just wait to see what comes to the Worthington Farmers market and hope for a good mix at apple sauce time. The jars look yummy. I’ve never put in anything except just the apples & a little water to keep it from burning. If you have a crock pot & use cider instead of water, you can turn out apple butter in about 24 hours on low. Add oils instead of ground spices to keep the apple butter from discoloring if that matters to you. You can also do kechup that way as well with end of summer tomatoes. Just can or freeze when it’s finished.

  8. Hi, Julie! Using a variety of apples sounds like a good idea! Right now I’m just trying not to let the ones in the back yard fall to the ground and be wasted. I am visiting a friend this weekend, however, who has a variety of apple trees and I’m certain she would part with a few. So next time I’ll try that. Thanks for the suggestions! Love, Kathryn xoox

  9. Beautiful, K – Iʻm endlessly amazed by all that you accomplish in this world. Bravo to another great post. p.

  10. Good morning, Pamela! Thank you for your kind comments! Appreciated!
    Love, Kathryn xoxo

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