Autumn in Nevada County

The Season, with a capital S is here and by that I mean harvest, the tidal wave of zucchini, apple, pumpkin and almond, making people resort to extreme tactics to unload the absurd amount of surplus produce that clogs up the fridge and the pantry and the broom closet.  In Nevada County this time of year, the incidents of Vegetable Abandonment go up tenfold.  I wish it was a crime because one of my favorite things about living in the county is the police blotter printed in the Union.  The guy who writes it should get an award.  It might read something like this:

6:12am Police respond to a 911 call in Nevada City where a caller reported their neighbor being crushed by a pile of squash.  The police helped remove the mountain of vegetable matter from the woman’s person, who claims someone left the avalanche of butternut and crookneck on her doorstep.  Her injuries did not require hospitalization.

7:40 am police respond to a cell phone call reporting two women having a dispute over a bag of heirloom tomatoes.  When the officer inquired as to who the tomatoes belonged to both women said “Her!” No arrests were made, but also, no marinara either.  

It is a high energy time, the horsetails and catails are like wispy giants along the road; the maples are auric in their gradient beauty.  Today I saw a tree that was a perfect composition of acid green, lemon yellow, tangerine orange.  There are these trees along main street in Grass Valley that bloom this time of year in this awe inspiring palette of peaches and carrots, red peppers and beets.   

I had my best harvest season yet and its not even over.  I canned some incredible green beans for my first time, I made plum ginger jam, plum cardamom jam, apple sauce, roasted red peppers in oil, canned tomatoes, and so many  zucchini muffins that I memorized the recipe.  I made a pumpkin pie and a pumpkin curry soup.   

And still the vegetables march on.  I feel like haven’t even made a dent in the invasion, and the guilt of watching some of it rot is unbearable when winter fast approaches and all those rich tangy, bright summer flavors will be so missed.

But the other, shadow harvest in our county is the one that overshadows all other bumper crops.  I speak of course, of the pot harvest.  This is the time of year that you might hear ten different languages at the check out of the Briar Patch or that you see some unseemly hippies standing on the highway with their dog on a rope simply holding op a badly drawn cardboard picture of a pot leaf.  I walked by a woman sitting as a cafe with her trimming scissors set out on the table in a blatant advertisement. Its the trim scene, man.  If you roll down your window you can almost tell which properties are growing because the smell is so powerful.  Once last year I was taking my mom into town on a lovely warm day and she said “that smells like skunk, ” “No,” I corrected her, “that was weed.”  A minute later she said, “that smells like weed,” “no, that’s skunk.”  

Like most counties in Norther California that have a pot trade, we have a bit of a schitzophrenic attitude .  Nevcoca likes the money but not the lifestyle.  Every year there is some kerfuffle up on the ridge, the first year we moved here 4 people died when one band of hippies got pissed at another band of hippies and tried to rob said hippies and I didn’t think hippies did the gun thing but there was shooting and car wrecking and everyone died.  Or so the lore goes.  

Still, the mom and pops seem relieved by the lurch in sales with the local economy still stumbling along. For better or worse, things keep growing.  The cornucopia keeps spilling it’s guts, the trees keep up their fireworks.  Its a sight to behold.  Thanks, Autumn.  

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