The storm windows went up this weekend.
Years ago, when we bought our house, it had aluminum storm windows—the sort with screens built in that warp slightly and are tricky, over the years, to open. Although I have fond memories of following my father through empty houses while he installed such windows, they are ugly. After we painted, I did not want to re-hang them. It was like putting blinders on our house. However, after a year of serious drafts, something had to be done. Our friend Mark is a woodworker and he took the glass from the old storms and built wooden ones, sized to fit each window’s quirks. We painted them deep red, hung them, and never looked back. Every autumn, around Halloween, we wash all of the windows—house and storm—wax the wooden edges with a chunk of candle like waxing old wooden cross country skis, and pop them on. Well, sometimes there’s a bit of pounding involved, if something has shifted over the summer. They add a layer of detail to the house, rather than subtracting. The house turns inward and quiet, focused for the long winter nights. Fires, beans in the crockpot, potlucks, sweater knitting, and reading become the focus of our lives, rather than hiking and gardening.
Sunbow Farm had a Harvest Home potluck this evening. We pulled in through the tall pampas grasses right before sunset and parked by the chip and mulch pile. The cob house was warm and welcoming; they had cleaned and lit a fire in the big wood stove. The world smelled of earth and dinner. Kent had carved a series of compost pile gourds and lined them down the path to the back field, ending with a large pumpkin. At twilight, we all stepped out into the breezy fields. The sun was setting south of Mary’s Peak, casting gold and peach light into the clouds and lighting up the mountain. The trees were dark against the sky. Kent lit the furthest pumpkin, and we walked back to the house, lighting gourds as we went. “We’re inviting the field spirits into the house for the winter,” he and Harry explained, “so that we can all live in peace. Then, in the spring, all of the spirits head back out into the fields.” Fifteen people walked the field track, back to the houses, as we had so often, summer after summer, hauling beans, water bottles, armloads of greens. “Now,” he announced, “we can eat!” And we did—fava and Indian Woman beans, stuffed red peppers, applesauce and apple cake, pickles from abundant crops of beets and cucumbers, all from our local farms.
On the way home, we passed three churches having Sunday evening services, their stained glass windows glowing in the leafy darkness.
Turn the oven on to 350 degrees.
Make a quiche crust with half whole wheat flour.
Sautee a leek in olive oil salt and pepper until limp.
Chop a crisp apple.
Cut smoked gouda into small cubes.
Beat four eggs into about 2/3 of a cup of milk.
Layer the quiche: cheese, apple and leek, then beaten eggs. Support the crust edge if it starts to bend with a shim of folded paper.
Bake until set.
Eat for dinner with a fresh green salad and cider.