“Just to take the chill off,” he says, which they certainly do. The only problem is the toasty atmosphere there now makes the other rooms in the house seem like cheerless caves.
It’s a rough adjustment for me each year as we move from “Mary weather” — long summer days that warm me to my toes with evenings spent comfortably lounging without a sweater — toward shorter autumn days that warm up only for a few hours each afternoon with evenings that turn downright chilly.
I’m not alone: The cucumbers and summer squash are barely hanging on, their withered vines sending out a mere handful of pale, pathetic blossoms. Even the tomatoes and peppers are hovering in stasis, waiting for a little heat before the final fruit ripens.
The brassica, on the other hand, are in their glory. The broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are lovin’ these temperatures — soaking up the recent rains and converting sunlight into lush blue-green leaves that smell absolutely alive when I brush by them.
Decomposing cole crops may have a uniquely nasty odor, but while they’re still growing, I find their scent intoxicatingly green.
So far this season, our broccoli has been out of this world. It’s sweet and crunchy while raw and full of heavenly flavor after a quick steam or stir-fry. The main heads have been uniform and sizeable, and the side shoots are already forming.
With luck, we may be picking those shoots into December again this year — a benchmark we failed to meet last fall.
Meanwhile, the cauliflower are contentedly gaining mass, nowhere near setting heads yet. In addition to the standard snowball, we’re trying an Italian purple variety that I’m anxious to taste. Gardener testimonials praise it for superior flavor, raw and cooked (when it’s supposed to turn bright green).
But it’s the Brussels sprouts that we’re most eagerly awaiting. The plants look the happiest they ever have. Like the tomatoes, they have benefited from this year’s applications of calcium additives.
And, now that I’ve snapped off their “heads,” they’re free to devote all their energies to forming the tiny cabbages that we’re so impatiently looking forward to roasting.
Like the golden, crackling fires, I guess there are some perks to the changing seasons.
I just wish it didn’t have to dip into the 40s before I could enjoy them!