There’s no threat of frost yet, but the temperatures below 10C overnight and it’s cold in the shade (and in the sun, and in the house because I try not to turn the money-devouring-furnace on until October).
The picture, above, is of a pumpkin I bought last Hallowe’en. It’s the kind they sell – dark green, blazed with orange, and very under ripe – at the grocery store as a “decorative gourd” but which is hella edible, albeit very watery. It sat on my table for a few months before it ripened to a pale, milk-chocolatey brown, and then I cut it open and baked it in wedges. It’s too watery for pie, even when baked (flavour is too diluted) but it’s a gorgeous addition diced into stews and braises.
I have zero ripe winter squash on my vines (not surprising, they usually take another month for me, and get harvested in late October) and I might not even get any, since what fruiting flowers I’ve had have been gnawed upon by the squirrels. But I chose this picture because it’s getting to be that time of year.
The Season of the Witch.
It’s Autumn Equinox today. Full moon in Aries tomorrow. The day and night are balance – same duration – and boy howdy, was I feeling that these past couple of days.
For those who aren’t in the area, my neck of the woods got walloped as it rarely does, with a big wind storm and a tornado that destroyed a number of people’s homes and took out power to a number of big chunks of the city, including our place (which is definitely still standing and, given that I’m typing this at all, has its power back on).
I gotta say: The limited daylight hours are very noticeable when you’re trying to wash dishes by candle light.
A power outage is a funny thing.
The first night is almost like a vacation. We stood outside and watched the stars (which were so much more visible with no ambient city lights), waved to the big, gibbous (then in Aquarius) moon, shared a glass of wine.
Dinner was home made bread with a fancy terrine and half a wheel of local brie. I got some knitting done and we sat on the couch and chatted.
The next day was a bit more stressful.
Wondering how long it would be before the lights came back on. Wondering how many things we can reasonably cook on a butane camp stove before (a) we run out of butane, and (b) we have to start cooking outdoors because it’s too cold to ventilate by opening up the windows. Wondering how to manage our very well-stocked (go me!) freezers and fridge when the electricity wasn’t keeping them cold anymore.
That was the big one, tbh.
Like, ice cream for breakfast is fun and all, but I was very, very glad I’d made that batch of yoghurt – and thus used up half of my milk – on Thursday, because yoghurt would keep for a lot longer.
Wondering how pan-fried kidneys were going to work out (probably fine, even with no garlic in the house), and whether or not I could do a slow-braised pork tongue on that little camp stove, or pan-fry more than one chicken leg at a time. Wondering how long chicken stock in unsealed jars can keep at room temperature.
Wondering whether or not I could make an adequate, pan-fried falafel-type… patty(?) using the already-cooked, whole chick peas and black beans rapidly thawing in the freezer… Would they hold together if putting them through my food mill left them kind of… chunky? Would they taste okay?
Wondering if we could rig the non-functioning, grill-free barbecue shell in the back up to be a wood-burning fire pit where we could (maybe?) use downed branches to make a longer-term cooking area, if we needed one. (Would it warp or even melt the aluminum? Could we find enough wood in the immediate area to even do this?) Could we drag Boroslava, our chimney-free, not entirely structurally sound but remarkably resilient, wood stove into the back yard and get her up and running again?
Wondering, if we did that, could I bake bread, one loaf at a time, inside our biggest cast iron pot – Dutch oven style – once our remaining loaf was used up, or if I was going to be making tortillas (thank you all the gods for still having running water) and dicing up the rillette left over from last weekend’s guest visit and turning into pasta sauce. (Wondering if I had enough pasta to do this more than twice).
Wondering how to pickle the frozen veggies (which, tbh, probably wouldn’t have been a problem. We’d just eat them before we ate the raw ones that are still good to keep fresh on the counter).
I’m kind of making this sound like it was a huge disaster.
It wasn’t. Not for us.
We’ve been offering hot showers and freezer space to friends whose power isn’t back on yet, and a friend of a friend needs a lot of help, so we’re waiting on the supply list and will see what-all we can send her way. But for us it was mildly inconvenient at best.
But our own Ottawa Storm experience was short and really easy.
A friend who had gas in her car came and picked us up, whisked us and our empty gas cans out to an area south of town that still had power, and we stocked up on fuel (how Mad Max of us), got cash out of a bank, and bought a few bags of groceries – tinned tuna, dry beans, short pasta, quick-cooking grains… stuff that can be cooked on the stove and doesn’t need a fridge – before going out for burgers and heading home again.
Not a big deal.
And it was still SUCH a relief when the lights came on again.
Like, I felt my shoulders drop and my chest unclench, just a little bit, when the fridge and freezer started humming and I could clearly see what I was doing over the sink.
It’s got me wondering “Would we have gotten used to it? Or would we have fallen apart?”
It’s got me thinking – again – about how having a rocket stove in the back yard – just a thin chimney of brick, topped with a steel or iron trivet, with space at the bottom for air feed and, a little further up, an equally small space for twigs and pine cones and other kindling – would make a difference in terms of what we could cook, when, and for how long, in a situation like this (or, hey, in a situation where it’s over 36C and being able to cook pasta or sausages without adding more heat to house is really appealing).
It’s got me thinking – again – about how having pressure-canned beans (like chick peas and romano beans – big legumes, as opposed to quick-cooking lentils and split peas) and meat (think chunks of brisket, pork shoulder, or uncured ham) on hand means not having to keep that meat in the freezer, and not having to worry about how long it takes a large, already-soaked bean to cook through. (A friend managed to wangle us a membership to the Ottawa Tool Library – bless her forever – and I will be borrowing their pressure canner in short order with this in mind).
It’s got me thinking – again – how useful it would be to have one of those crank-powered flashlights that doubles as radio and a tiny generator for charging phones. Even if the cell service was intermittent, it helped to be able to check in with friends and make sure people were home and safe. It’s got me thinking that having an ancient, touch-tone (or rotary dial) phone on hand would be a good idea, if only because it’s not cordless – doesn’t require a charged battery at all, and can work on the (sometimes buried, and more likely to be functional) phone lines rather than needing a cell tower – and would let us (maybe) keep in touch with people for longer.
Basically, I’m thinking about how under-prepared I felt, in spite of a garden and a million jars of crushed tomatoes and apple butter hanging around the place.
The sun will be DOWN (and the full moon – in Aries – will be up) in a little less than an hour and a half. And I will have light to cook by, and a stove to cook on, and I am so freaking grateful for both of those things. O.O
Autumn Equinox is Harvest time, time to remember what you sowed in the spring and to take stock of how those plans and projects have developed. What are you harvesting/reaping at this time?
I was doing the Eat From the Larder Challenge (hahaha… funny how that works out) and spending all of March avoiding my Empress Project.
Now I’m here and being told by Sarah Gottesdiener, over at Little Red Tarot, that “What [I’m] making is manifesting” and to “Get a plan you believe in and invest in [my]self”.
The folks at Hoodwitch that the Aries Full Moon energy is good for spell work regarding courage/bravery, overcoming obstacles and clearing the way, and for letting go of anger. I love the horoscope they provide for Scorpio:
You don’t have to know what you want; you don’t even have to know where you’re going. What you do need is to be interested in finding out the answers.
An appropriate card for the Aries Full Moon. A card that says “Shuck off all those ‘shoulds’, all those notions of what you’re allowed to be, and to want!” A card that says “Take action! Take a chance, before it passes you by!”
I am trying not to freak right out about Not Knowing The Answer.
The intention I set back at the New Moon, was “Help me be brave”.
And I have been.
I have a date lined up (for right around the New Moon in Libra), in one of those places where it’s socially appropriate to revel in my violence and possessiveness and specifically to explore some explicit, specific desires that I’ve been curious about for a few years now. This is awesome but, while I definitely like this woman – we get along well and our interests dovetail nicely and she’s cute as heck – I have no idea how our planned shenanigans are going to turn out and my tendency to catastrophize (and not even in a useful way) is strong right now. O.O
The cards I drew for this Full Moon meditation aren’t the easiest ones for me. “Struggle”, which has shown up recently, is pretty self-explanatory and The Heirophant – for all that she’s presented here as both a figure of stern guidance and someone who’s actually got your best interests at heart (as opposed to, say, any given Pope ever in history) – is still a card with the potential to lean towards “thou shalt not” and the kind of social expectations that queer, emotionally messed-up, under-employed, polyamourous me consistently fails to meet.
What I see here is “Yes, this is hard, but you have support if you need it, you have guidance if you need it”, possibly with a side of “You have your (various – social and magical/religious) traditions to draw on here, you don’t have to do this entirely by yourself”.
If I were to turn this into a request to any ancestors and gods who happen to be listening, I would ask: “Help me to trust. Help me to ask out loud.”
Motion: Yard work and modeling. My lower back and hips are not thrilled about this, but I’m glad to be doing work I enjoy.
Attention: The weather. Paying attention to the temperature, but also to the wind and whether or not there’s rain in the forecast. But also paying attention to what I have in my freezer, what I have in my fridge, what needs to be eaten first. Yeah. The power outage is over, and I’m still watching to see if the lights are flickering.
Gratitude: Light. electricity. The fridge and freezer are working again and we didn’t have any food spoilage. Pretty women who think I’m cool (and cool women who think I’m pretty, tbh). A ride home from work today, with further rides for the rest of the week. Maybe getting to (finally) see a friend tomorrow, who I haven’t seen since August. Having a duvet to add to the bed now the the weather is cold enough to screw with my hips and make it hard to sleep otherwise. Spending the Equinox chatting and knitting and drinking tea with a bunch of bi nerds in my neighbourhood. Hot food on a cold day. Getting to watch the stars come out and the moon come up with my lovely wife while drinking white wine on the back steps. So many beautiful things.
Inspiration: Crisp nights. Leather season. Blustery, bright days. Misty mornings and rushing clouds. Autumn is beautiful.
Creation: Not a whole lot, tbh. Though I did decide to take part in the local Smut Slam, pretty much on the spur of the moment. Wrote a less-than-five-minutes story based on events from my own life (done as a series of vignettes draped over the frame of a confession), memorized it, and presented it over the course of about an hour. And I’m pretty pleased with myself for that one.