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The Last Windrow: Fruitful summer comes to close

My wife has filled our downstairs larder with hundreds of pints and quarts of dill pickles, sauerkraut, salsa, tomatoes, sweet pickles, pickled string beans, pickled peppers and canned peaches. PineandLakes.com Illustration

As I pulled that last walleye of the season to the boat last week, I officially said goodbye to the summer of 2017.

It was a good fish, one worthy of being the last fish to enter my boat's livewell for the year. My friend netted the golden-sided fish and we both agreed it was a worthy candidate for last fish of the year. The boat is going into storage this week.

The warm weather season of 2017 is in the rear view mirror. I thought about that as I was toting our pressure cookers to the basement storage room. My wife has filled our downstairs larder with hundreds of pints and quarts of dill pickles, sauerkraut, salsa, tomatoes, sweet pickles, pickled string beans, pickled peppers and canned peaches.

I've been tripping over those pressure cookers for what seems like an eternity as I plod into the kitchen in the early morning darkness to start the coffee perking. Their work is done for the year.

Our garden has been good to us this past summer. The sweet corn grew tall and sweet. My waistline is a telltale sign that I like sweet corn. No frozen corn can compare. The onion crop grew to provide bags full of the aromatic vegetable. Even the radishes grew larger than a marble this year!

We've never had tomatoes the likes of this summer's crop. Even after giving many away, there were still hundreds scattered across the garden's landscape.

I moved our potato bed this spring, thinking we would avoid those pesky beetles. Wrong. Somehow the little, hard-shelled critters found our spuds and we spent many an early evening laying waste to this crop of bugs. If not for the effort, nary a potato would have graced the bomb shelter underground.

But, we rescued what we could and there will be enough to make it through any bad and lengthy winter. I always find it comforting to look at the stored potatoes. For some reason they spell "security" to me.

Our pumpkin and squash crops were the only disasters this year. For some reason the seeds never sprouted. We've experienced pickup truck beds full of pumpkins over the years, but not this year. There will be no jack-o-lanterns greeting visitors at our driveway entrance this year.

I changed the oil in the snowblower last week. If there is ever a sign that summer has left us, it is seeing someone changing oil in his or her snowblower. The vintage blower has seen its share of heavy snow winters and is still running, just like me. It smokes and pops and stalls once in awhile, kind of like me, but its blower is still working, kind of like me.

The machine sits at the doorway of the garage at the ready for what will surely come. Forecasts tell me that we might expect a colder and snowier winter this year. I and my snowblower are ready.

With the boat stored at the back of the garage, the old Polaris snowmobile has taken a prominent position at the front, pointed outward. It's rusted in a few places and the seat has a tear in it, but the motor still purrs like a kitten and it will soon see the back of our woods while gliding over the white landscape.

I was thinking of all these things as I tugged that last walleye to the boat last week. The sun was setting at 6:30 and the smell of fallen leaves greeted us as we loaded the boat in the early evening darkness. Most of the docks on the lake had been pulled, there was no one checking boats for invasive species at the access and only a few house lights now twinkled along the shoreline. The "summer people" had left for warmer climes. One could feel the change of seasons coming.

The summer of 2017 has been put to bed. The larder is full. The walleye is in the freezer.

See you next time. Okay?

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