Crossing the Autumnal Equinox—Both of Them

By , September 24, 2017

Today is the local Autumnal Equinox on the Zeiger Family Homestead. At our latitude, the balance between darkness and light falls two days later than the official Autumnal Equinox, September 22nd this year. After today, the balance between darkness and light tips, accelerating toward the Winter Solstice.

Autumn came on strong this last week in a variety of ways. Our favorite mushroom, the king bolete, has finally appeared in force. Despite eager attacks from all interested parties, who have impatiently awaited their arrival—humans, squirrels, millipedes and mushroom flies—we’re getting some nice ones. So many, in fact, that we’re drying boletes for the first time in years. We even had a warm, sunny day that encouraged us to move the dryer from over the wood stove to outdoors, where the sun and breeze could dry them faster.

bolete mushrooms in dryer

Boletes drying in the sun and breeze (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Every day, when Aly comes home from work, she brings more windfall apples from the Anway tree in the Sheldon Museum front yard (see Charlie Anway Gives the Gift of Autumn). The cabin smells like autumn, as we slowly process the apples for sauce, pie, hard cider and more.

The Tier II Subsistence Moose Hunt started September 15th. I have my permit, but most of my moose hunting comes in the form of keeping a sharp eye and ear out while working hard at getting the season’s firewood in. Michelle, however, has had more luck sighting moose—perhaps too much!

One morning, on the way to work, she had to find a different path to the road, as a pair of cows blocked the main trail. As she got to the car, a bull walked right past her at an alarmingly short distance! She said it had a beautiful antler rack, but a hunter who walked up to talk to her told her it wasn’t legal by the arbitrary, difficult, but very legally-binding parameters set by Alaska Fish & Game to limit the harvest each year. Incidentally, last I heard, 17 of the 20-25 bull yearly limit are accounted for. Monday, we’ll see how many more got bagged over the weekend. This hunt may end early, like last year. If so, we’ll be mooseless again, but I can focus on the firewood. It’s a mixed blessing.

Easier prey, though hardly less elusive, a porcupine has been raiding our garden. Aly actually saw it one morning, and chased it into the old chicken coop on her way to the cabin. Unfortunately, she was too sleepy to realize she could have trapped it in there by blocking the doorway. She, more than the rest of us, has been hungry for porcupine. We’ll all have to wait longer.

Finally, this autumn, we’ve had a few family adventures which we’ll detail in future posts. We’re into what is, perhaps, our homestead’s most significant season (see The Circle of the Seasons: Autumn), and life is good!

Is Aly fraternizing with the enemy, or playing with her food? Find out in the coming days . . . . (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

See also Evidence of Autumn, or see photos of the homestead in autumn here.

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