The heat and haze of summer afternoons, the buzz of the cicadas in the still, oppressive air, are sometimes interrupted by a sudden summer storm. More often the roll of distant thunder brings no rain to relieve the heat or quench the parched vegetables. Leaves wilt in the afternoon heat. When rain does come, it is often in the form of a downpour with such pounding force that it bruises the leaves of growing plants, releasing the fragrance of a multitude of herbs into the warm, moist air.
The first major harvest from the garden is cabbage. When all the cabbage has been picked, I remove the outer leaves for stuffing and split the heads. I slice the quartered heads dime thin, weigh the shredded vegetable and then add three tablespoons of salt to each five pounds. Then the cabbage is stomped in an old crock until it is covered with its own liquid. This will ferment in the cellar until it is canned sometime during the waning moon in September.
Later in the month, when all the plants have turned yellow and fallen over, the potatoes are ready to harvest. Jeff2 gently turns the soil with a pitch fork while I follow him, my bare feet planted in the dirt, my fingers feeling in the warm moist soil for the potatoes as the rich loamy aroma wafts up into my nose.
By the last day of the month, our harvest is in full swing. We have tasted the abundance, we have eaten our fill of tomatoes and peaches and corn on the cob. I have begun to can tomatoes and pickle cucumbers, and the cellar is beginning to be filled.