Dehydration Can be a Good Thing


[ The loaded dehydrator ]

November 29 – We have never before dried any fruits or vegetables except tomatoes, so it’s quite different this year as we have dried Asian pears and pears from an ancient tree out in the pasture the other side of the fence that is crowned with long-gone-to-seed clematis vines.

Several weeks ago we had trimmed the orange trumpet vines that live on the other side of the fence nearer to the road. So why haven’t we pruned off those dainty-looking clematis that have long ago gone to seed? A good reason. Though the top of the fence sports so many old-rose colored vines that long ago lost their white flowers, the vines from the roots upward are still green and alive!


[ Clematis in it’s better days ]

Because I want to finish up that one last job before winter really arrives, I go out every new morning and check the condition of the vines. I hope that they won’t “hang on” until the snow falls. I do not enjoy working outside when snow lies all around, and I need to wear so many kinds of clothing, clothing that I haven’t used since the beginning of the year! How I detest heavy jackets, stocking caps, boots, scarves, and warm mittens. As I looked back on that sentence, I found that I haven’t worn any of that apparel except a jacket for about eight months!


[ Peeling apples ]

Now back to our job of drying fruits for a tasty and healthful snack through the winter. A couple days ago we finished up the pears and Fusan apples from Chile, and are now concentrating on some Red Delicious apples. A couple dozen of those peeled and cut up are enough to fill up the six trays in the dehydrator. Once dried, Dale will take out the dried apples, put them in a plastic bag, and pop them into one of our freezers. (We have two in the basement, one upright, one chest type, and the top of the fridge can hold a lot too.) Just for fun, I plan to put a mixture of a little sugar and some cinnamon into the trays tomorrow evening. We both like fruit with a little tang!

This fall one of our chestnut trees still has just about every leaf it ever had, with so many brown leaves still on the tree, while right next to it, the second tree has no leaves at all! The leaves were beautiful and golden before they fell. Dale froze many plastic bags of chestnuts while we were still beating the squirrels to the rest of the nuts on the trees. Either we have been enjoying so many beautiful pears and apples that we have lost our taste for the nuts, or maybe Dale will be back to pricking the shells and popping them into water before putting them into the microwave.

Took a walk this afternoon, this time on the road that runs past our house instead of walking the trails around the property. When I asked Dale if he thought the hard surface of the dirt road would give him more problems with the neuropathy in his feet, he said he would hope for the best. Well, we could have taken our usual walk, but I have come to the place where I am not too keen on the up and down surface of the paths, thanks to our friendly moles who have taken over the territory. Just looking anywhere ahead of where we are walking, we can easily see the rough terrain.

During our walk, I showed Dale how my shoes went straight ahead as they should, not as they sometimes turn on their sides on the trails. Since he said that he had had no problem today, I guess we will continue to leave the moles behind. I almost forgot to mention that on this day so close to December, our thermometer told us that we would be walking in temps in the sixties! The sky was full of huge white clouds, making a beautiful picture when the sun was shining on them.


[ Dale studying a seed catalog ]

Right now Dale is looking through two new seed catalogs, one from a company in Vermont, and the other from Totally Tomatoes in Wisconsin. If anything ever grabs his attention and sets him to thinking of better days ahead, all the way to the spring season, it’s the seed catalogs, probably a dozen different kinds. Some of the seed companies, like Shumway and Burpee, received a yearly order from my folks way back in the twenties when I was just a little kid, and they’re still going strong! Dale enjoys the ones from Jung, Brecks, Gurneys, Field, and Harris.

So many good reasons why we enjoy our peaceful life here in the country, and want to continue until we can’t take care of our garden, mow the lawn, rake up the leaves, or walk the trails. Hopefully that will be awhile yet!  How good it is that when we need something that we can’t do ourselves, we can fall back on our son David and our son-in-law Harvey, both of whom always go the second mile.


[ Working on the puzzle ]

As we celebrated Thanksgiving with Harvey’s family, David and Rindy, one of his daughters, enjoyed the banter back and forth along with the rest of the crew. Afterwards they stopped in at our home, where David worked on problems I was having with the computer.  Then he and Rindy helped Dale to find some jigsaw pieces that just didn’t show up no matter how hard he tried. Of course, with their young(er) eyes, David and Rindy came up with the ones that fit right into the puzzle! – CHRIS

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