August 17, 2011

Coming to a Close

In just a few days the New Hampshire phase of Our Year will come to a close. We'll say goodbye to the animals we've cared for, the people we've bonded with, the gardens we've tended to and the bounty of fresh, delicious foods we've enjoyed. For a big city girl like me, my time here has been a pleasantly enriching surprise.

Beautiful Lake Willoughby, in northern Vermont.
 I learned quite a bit. For example:

-David has many talents...

He can also juggle despite my valiant attempts to distract him.
He can communicate with chickens, even though this one is stonewalling him.

-I like dogs. Especially this sweet one - a welcome part of our house sitting duties.

- I'm not too bad at lawn games. Croquet and bacci ball are particularly fun with a refreshments cart (even if the house is but steps away).

- It's important to keep an eye on the zucchini, especially after a good rain. We found quite a few submarine sized veggies in the garden.

- In the case of an impending storm, stay home. A pleasant mountain hike can quickly derail when the lightning begins.

My summer in New Hampshire was rather different than I envisioned. With the absence of television, and the distractions of urban life came the opportunity to read, to learn, to cook, to reflect and ultimately to connect. Acworth truly marks the beginning of Our Year for me. I'm excited about whatever else may be in store.

Harvesting Vegetables

Later in our New Hampshire stay we had training in house-sitting, looking over the estate of our good friends the Lords for two weeks in August. They left for vacation right as many parts of their garden were producing, so we were tasked with using as many veggies as we could. Fresh cukes, zukes, squash, all were good, but the enormous bounty of green beans offered more preserving opportunities. We tried our hand at one of our favorites to eat, dilled green beans. The recipe came from an excellent book on preservation, Putting Food By.  Find the recipe for Dilly Beans in our recipe page. We also learned about the onions, garlic, broccoli and greens we were able to harvest and enjoy. The onions and garlic we dried out for storage, while we briefly flash-boiled the broccoli before freezing it, which is a good technique for freezing many types of vegetables. We paid the Lords back with some dilly beans, who will hopefully report on how they turned out. Not soggy we hope.
Dilly Beans ingredient rundown: deluxe glacial himilayan salt, red pepper flakes, fresh dill heads, fresh garlic, and crisp green beans. All fresh, and if we count this guy and ourselves as part of a global community, then all local.

Pint Jars in boiling water bath (10 minutes max!); 'bout two inches of space above tops of the jars

Killer mason jar tongs allow for easy extraction. Guy Fieri sponsors our equipment line.

A trip to the Bog

During our stay in South Acworth, we had two friends come visit us from NY. Angela and Jamilah had a genuine camping experience as our tent guests for two nights, and for a local excursion we went to the Philbrick-Cricenti Bog.
It is a nearby natural wonder, a funky and creepy place to learn all kinds of hands-on stuff about a bog. It is great to see the local groups that have organized to preserve the space.  

For me, the word bog conjures scenes from fantasy novels filled with misty forests, bubbling dark pools and nebulous forces. And while there's something disconcerting about stepping onto the spongy moss, the bog we visited was not quite the dark and sinister Fire Swamp I had imagined.

Angela, David, Jamilah and I set out to explore the Philbrook, Cricenti Bog in New London, New Hampshire.

Remember, you must stay on the path.
Why? Pull up the stick...
...below you are 20 feet of water. There are whole cows and horses down there, probably pretty well-preserved.

The Quaking Loop
The ground shakes and jiggles beneath you like a waterbed. A path two planks wide provides support.

Jamilah, David & Angela... all staying on the path.