Fall in Kansas

Fall is a wonderful colorful season. Below is a beautiful description of fall in Kansas.

 

October 1979

 

A Report on Fall

 

In the southwest sky the sun glows red and the drowsy air is satiated with the incessant chorus of the locust. The fields of milo are sculpted in bronze and copper heads reaching in stately ranks toward the blue arc of the heavens. Nearby, the soft violet of an alfalfa plot is slashed to pale green by each round of the swather.

 

Out by a weatherbeaten shed an ancient apple tree is weighed down with a crop of Red Delicious. The apples that were wormy, bird pecked, half rotted, or windfalls are all made into applesauce and resting safely in the freezer.

 

Pheasants with their half grown young run across the road to a brushy shelter to escape the wheels of a passing car. Knowing at first hand what man and a gun can do to their delicate bodies, doves are wary of all movement.

 

Sunflowers bloom extravagantly in any available spot. Where the soil is moist, smartweed grows luxuriantly, putting out great feathery clusters of dainty pale lavender plumes. The goldenrod is thick along the roads wherever it has escaped man’s effort to tidy up the countryside with a mower.

 

Toward dusk a moth hovers over the petunia bed sticking its long proboscis into each bloom and sucking out the nectar. A few bees are flying about gathering honey. The usual brisk Kansas wind is a gentle zephyr as it blows over the ripening land.

 

Overhead, momentarily, is the roar of an airplane and in the distance is the continual drone of tractors. The wheat fields are worked and fertilized awaiting the magical moment when each farmer knows in his bones that it is time to plant. The black walnuts are hanging thick on the trees along Emma Creek with the early drop offs being carried down stream by the current or laying water soaked in a quiet inlet.

 

In the garden the last planting of sweet corn is finished. Watermelon, cantaloupe, and cucumbers can still be found, but the vines are shop worn and seedy looking. Tomato plants have escaped their trellis and wire cages and sprawling every which way, but with fruit still ripening in abundance.

 

The fall planting of green beans is ready to be picked. The radishes planted in August have been pulled and September planting is coming in. The turnips and beets have grown good globes, one white and one red according to the imprinted message of their seeds.

 

Queen of the late garden is the okra – a plant growing over five feet tall that can – oh, blessed thought – be picked with the pickee in an upright position. It has an olive green five pointed leaf growing from a main stalk that is about one or two inches thick. This soft green stem is streaked and splotched with dark red coloring. The flower is conical shaped before opening to five creamy yellow petals with a maroon base. Inside is a stamen ending in a blood red bulb divided into seven small velvety cushions. Okra is prolific. A small patch will produce enough pods each day for a large family. It is almost a miracle – the more you gather the more there is the next day.

 

In sorting out the images of fall I find the one sure portent is the daily passing of the school buses as they rumble by picking up and delivering children, that most precious asset of any farm, to school and bringing them back home in the late afternoon.

 

Bread and Butter Pickles

 

12 medium cucumbers

3 teaspoons celery seed

8 onions

¼ cup white mustard seed

4 green peppers

1 ½ teaspoons turmeric

1 medium cauliflower

2 teaspoons prepared mustard

¾ cup cooking salt

1 teaspoon ginger powder

6 ½ quarts water

 

Sauce:

7 cups sugar

¼ teaspoon mace

6 cups vinegar

Few dashes red pepper

 

Slice pickles, onions, peppers, cauliflower and soak in salt water over night. Boil syrup with ½ quart of water. Boil three minutes. Add vegetables and boil 20 minutes or until clear. Seal.

 

Apple Cake

 

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon soda

¼ cup butter or margarine

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 egg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

5 large apples, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup white flour

½ cup raisins or nuts

 

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and apples. Sift dry ingredients. Add to first mixture. Add raisins or nuts. Pour into greased 8 x 8 inch pan. Bake at 350° F for 35 minutes. Allow cake to cool.

 

Sauce

 

½ cup water

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon flour

½ teaspoon vanilla

6 tablespoons sugar

 

Put first 4 ingredients in a pan. Cook until thick. Add vanilla. Spread over top of cake. Serve warm or cold

 

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