HELEN LANG: The best-laid plans of nuts and chickens

October is a lovely month, the heat of the summer is over and the winter rains haven’t really started

October is a lovely month, the heat of the summer is over, the winter rains haven’t really started (despite the recent weather), there will soon be frost and the leaves will turn red and yellow and its harvest time.

I’ve been thinking about the three filbert nut trees I planted on Melissa Street, wondering if the nuts are ripening. I planted these trees when it seemed important to be as self-sufficient as possible, and I figured they would provide some protein, as well as the eggs laid by the chickens I planned to raise in a pen Jim built, attached to the garage.

Like so many happy plans one makes in life, it never happened. No chickens, no eggs and mighty few nuts (except for me).

Jim, my darling husband went along with my wild plans, although I’m pretty sure he thought I was crazy. It was easier and less stressful to help me, rather than listen to my worries about a possible famine.

We had just moved from Prince George where, although I tried, the growing season was too short to grow much of anything edible, so I was gung-ho when we moved to Sidney and a warmer climate.

Poor lamb, he was patient with me, and loved the fresh vegetables and fruit (and a few nuts) that the garden provided.

•   •   •   •

It is somewhat foggy this morning — not enough to be confusing, just a shadowy mist — with the sun about to come out. It is, at the time of this writing, still warm enough not to need a jacket to go for a walk, really lovely outside and I have stacks of newspapers to go into the recycling bin. So, it’s a good day to attend to such things.

My friend Annie took me yesterday to buy bulbs. This is a terrible temptation for someone who loves bulbs as much as I do. You may recall that some years ago I sold bulbs out of our garage on Melissa Street and was in seventh heaven doing so.

I got to go to the supplier in Richmond (Van Nordt) to choose what I hoped would sell — a dangerous mission for me, loving bulbs as I do.

It was like being dropped into heaven, everything from crocus to fritillaria to choose from. I could hardly stand it, it was so glorious. But I had a limited amount of money so had to calm myself (somewhat) and buy what I hoped would attract buyers. A week later a truck appeared at the end of the driveway, carrying my precious cargo.

In the meantime, we had erected shelves in the garage (the car was now parked on the side of the street. Jim was not amused —  he had considered the garage as being his. What was this mad woman thinking, crowding into his space?). But he tolerated my love affair with bulbs. It kept me busy and not asking him to do a lot of things he wasn’t too keen about, such as mowing the lawn, or digging the vegetable garden. He got to play a lot of golf instead, so we worked it out peacefully.

I find bulbs to be a wonderful birthday gift although I recall one lot of bulbs given to a granddaughter that I discovered a year later still sitting on a shelf in their garage. They no longer looked like bulbs, more like shrivelled bits of bark, unfortunately no longer alive. A fancy bar of soap would have made a better gift.

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.

 

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