"People from a planet without flowers
would think we must be mad with joy the whole time
to have such things about us."
~Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Heat Wave

The hot weather has struck again. In four days it will have been a year since THE FIRE. It is an ominous, overwhelming fear that doesn't pay heed to the old adage... lightening doesn't strike in the same place twice. I know that the odds of a fire happening again, near us, is slim but still....A fire did finally happen and it only takes one carelessly tossed cigarette, a simple act of stupidity, to spark a wildfire. Only one crazy person tossing one match, from a car window. It could happen again... in this same place.
Yesterday morning I woke up at about 5:45 a.m. The rooster was just starting to make a few attempts at crowing but he wasn't being very energetic about it. I could feel the coolness from the open window over my head. I knew that I wasn't going to fall back to sleep, so I quietly got up and closed the bedroom door behind me. The Prospector appeared to be a dead man sleeping so I left him to his dreams, slipped my tennies on, grabbed the camera and went out the door. I heard Carl say something from his crate, but it was a quiet remark like, "What are you doing up so early and where are you going?" He was content to put his head back down and wait for The Prospector. Carl was still in his sleep mode.
I went out the back door, let the cat out of the garage, went through the side gate and walked up the hill to the old orchard. It was beautiful. I watched for Rattlers, just in case one had decided to spend the warm night on the dirt trail. None had.
The sun was giving some distant hills to the east a lovely greeting.
I could hear a bird in the distance and  movement in the grass... some little resident going to tell others that a human was in their midst. I imagined this little creature moving through the glass, as quietly as possible, to warn his buddies of my presence. The sound stopped. Maybe he went into a hole of safety.
The sky was becoming... pinker, brighter and making ready for the day. Pretty soon the sun would come up over the Blue Mountains like a force to be reckoned with, bringing the heaviness of a hot day with it.
I  said hello to Maggie, who is buried on the hill and walked back down toward the house. It was still early and I couldn't hear the dogs, so I walked down the road to the switch back, a sharp turn on our lower road..
I heard a "meow."
It was Annie. She had followed me down the road and was making her presence known.
"Come on, Annie. Come kitty. What are you doing down here?" She meowed again and walked toward me.
Just then the sun came over the hills and the dry summer morning turned to gold.
Someone must have called the state of California "golden" because of this sunlight on the dry summer morning and not so much for the discovery of the veins of gold in the ground. Everything turned to gold and then...the shadow of Annie and I stood out against the rock hill.
We look like a petroglyph.  A shadow of life... with  a cat...like the ancient cave paintings.
Annie was nervous and on guard. I don't think she usually comes down this far by herself. She would be a "house" cat if it weren't for the dogs ,who seem to have a vendetta toward her. She is a little "fur person" (May Sarton's cat who prefers people and makes a choice to live with them.) and she loves Farmlady and the Prospector. Annie would be a house cat if it were her choice.
I told Annie to come  and she did... watching the hill above us and looking to me for direction.
We walked back to the house.
  She headed to the chicken coop, where she usually hangs out with "the ladies". I went into the house to find the Prospector making coffee and letting the dogs out of their crates.

Later, in the morning, we picked grapes and made grape juice. Yes, this is a messy, time consuming project but it is worth it.
The Prospector picked a bucket of grapes. We forgot to weigh them so I don't know how many pounds we had. They were Concord and some other varieties, which we can't remember, but they are a beautiful, light purple, almost pink in color. The Concords are the dark blue ones that look like blueberries. All are sweet table grapes.
Then we sat on the porch and removed all the grapes from the stems.
Carl is a grape eater and he's not suppose to eat them. We had to build a small fence to seperate him from the grapes because he would not leave them alone. He's still mad about that.
 He was waiting for a few to fall out of our hands so he could catch them quickly before we did.
 Look at that sly dog.
He had been told "No grapes, Carl." and was not happy about it.
This is his "I don't like that word." look. It's the determined Corgi look.
"I will have a grape if I want it." he is thinking.

We ended up with a large colander filled with grapes. I took the grapes into the kitchen, cleaned them, squished them with a metal potato masher and put them into a large pot. I added some water (not much) and brought them to a boil, skin, seeds and all. Then I simmered them for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Then comes the messy part. Do it in the sink.
 This is a Jelly Strainer. This is how you separate the good stuff from the bad.
I use a strainer on top of the juice bag to get the bigger pieces of skin and seeds before they got into the straining bag. I think it drains better without all of the fruit dregs.
If I'm not making jelly, I squeeze the bag to make the juice drip faster into the bowl. It's kind of like milking a cow, if you're into that sort of thing.
 If you do this with juice that is going to become Jelly, you will get more sediment in the juice and the jelly will be cloudy. That's a no no in the jelly making world. Jelly must be CLEAR, so you don't squeeze the bag.
But this is juice and it doesn't really matter if there's some sediment. It still tastes wonderful.
I used a large spoon to squeeze the juice out of the fruit mixture.
This juice was so sweet that it didn't need any sugar. We bottled up almost two quarts of juice in an empty,  cleaned out bottle from Trader Joe's.
I pulled the "Green Plant" wrapper off of the bottle and made my own sign. I hope Trader Joe's is OK with this
Very professional... don't you think?
Go Here: for a complete guide  for making juice. It's easy and it's good for you.


6 comments:

Brian Miller said...

ha i like your label...smiles...has it really been a year...wow...where did the time go? i like your shadow shot that is very cool....and we have a grape arbor...might need to try and make juice...

Suz said...

oh so much to read today....what a nice walk you had with kitty...too bad she has to be locked in the garage..I love May Sarton....maybe today I'll read a bit of her.....I would have loved that early morning walk...the rising sun...nothing better, except maybe for the setting sun!
I don't think I would like watching out for snakes...but I know I would love waking up to a rooster's crow.....Your carl is too cute...and I loved that look on his face..I don't speak dog language but i read that one on his face! Funny what animals eat...and last of all I remember you fire...how scary...and I remember the goats.....lets cry together....I so have learned to love them through you...
Making juice...now I could never get my husband to do that....and he loves preserves not jelly....hard to be me Farmlady..hee hee
My son loves that golden state
...and he has my grandkids...
all that beauty is cheating
take care

Tombstone Livestock said...

It's going to be HOT, HOT, HOT, for the next 10 days, 110 or greater. Come on winter. Stay Safe, stay cool.

Kerry O'Gorman said...

Those early morning hours are precious and your photos have captured it perfectly...one day you should paint that shadow petroglyph on the rocks for future generations!
My sister use to make concord grape juice and it was DELICIOUS!! Hope you find a cool place to sit. We can't seem to have more than 2 days of heat and then it cools down again...you may have to summer up here. But then you would miss your golden light and grapes.

Roslyn said...

I am so envious, harvesting your own produce, there is nothing better Farm Lady!
I love home made grape jam it's the only kind of grape jam I will eat!A couple of years ago friend gave me 3 bushels of organic grapes of different kinds & oh the jam was magnificent to taste!
yum yum

Heidi Ann said...

I have never had homemade grape juice - it looks and sounds delicious!