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We went away for a few days. Not like a big vacation or anything, just a quick trip up to my mum’s in the far north. It was beautiful, with color just getting underway. While we were there, the weather forecast warned of a hard freeze. I asked if there was anything in her garden that she wanted to bring in, or cover.

No, she was really ready. I know my sister and brother-in-law next-door were out in their garden, picking the last of the tomatoes, green beans, and anything else left from the season. I knew that, back at home, there was a frost warning, but I wasn’t worried. We’ve been gardening in Cedar for a number of years, and we’re pretty accustomed to our glide path into autumn. Usually, I can harvest the last dribs and drabs through the end of October. Had I been home, I might have thrown row covers over things, just to be sure. But I wasn’t worried.

Even up in Copper Harbor, the warning appeared to be a bit overblown. I’m not sure that their final harvest efforts were necessary. Morning came and, though it was nippy, their garden fared pretty well. Perhaps it was colder, inland. But the little town of Copper Harbor is on Lake Superior, and the summer’s warm water moderates temperatures in town.

Imagine my surprise then, when I got home. A hard freeze had taken out most everything! The basil looks burned black!. The tomatoes, lush and green on our departure, are dried and brown. The biggest shock was my late pototoes–frozen to mush above ground. I’ll have to harvest as “new potatoes.” They’ll be small–since I planted them late in the season. Only the beets and carrots fared well. They will actually have improved, since some vegetables do even better–sweeter for having been frost-kissed.

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And now, with the damage done, the temperatures have come back up. The days are lovely, warm and still. It’s hazy. The light, and the sun, have a red-filtered cast, the results of California fires, thousands of miles away. Otherwise, it seems like a normal early autumn. I have salvage work to do, and then an earlier than normal winter prep. Strange times, I tell you. Strange times.

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