Ahh!…The End of a Beautiful Summer!

…southeastern Pennsylvania style!  You may have read Sharon’s post with this same title, so here is my edition of our ‘end of summer’ here in countryville, Pennsylvania!  In Utah, summer means hiking in mountains and canyons, rodeos, and Utah Statehood days; in our neck of the woods, it means stocking and storing up Summer’s Bounty!

Last year, I posted about canning tomatoes, something I had never done before!  Then I tasted the canned tomatoes.  I was sold on them.  The problem was, in January, I ran out.  And then it was, that I decided, rain or shine, this next summer, I would can tomatoes, and I would can a lot of them!  So last week I did twenty-four quarts, and may have more to come!  Have you ever tasted home-canned tomatoes?  Suffice it to say, I don’t mind if I never taste store-bought canned tomatoes again!Oh yes, and those green beans are actually remnants of last summer’s bounty!  They have a story of their own you can read if you missed it last year!

Then there is the sweet corn.  Oh, the sweet corn!  A dear friend (and even more dearer now!) blanched and froze corn with another lady from church.  Kindly, she offered to give us a bag.  I expected one ziploc bag of frozen fresh corn for us to taste.  Well, she awarded us with a grocery bag full of sweet corn!  Wow, what a blessing!  We tasted it for the first time last Sunday.  I hate to be prejudice, but it had to be the best I remember!  It had no sugar added to it, and yet was soooooo sweet!  And the flavor and even texture were perfect!  Come to find out, it was from this church lady’s Amish neighbors.  Well, they must know the secret to raising and harvesting sweet corn!

Then there are all the berries!  Last year we picked wine berries, a type of red raspberry, and I also picked blueberries.  Well, this year I went the easy route, and simply bought blueberries and strawberries.  I had to get up a good store of strawberries for Dustin’s favorite smoothie: Strawberry-Banana-Orange Juice.  Bananas are still easy to find in the winter, as is orange juice, but strawberries go from $1-2/quart to $5-6/quart!

And last, but not least, we made refrigerator pickles.  Dustin had a taste for pickles, and so after some research, we decided to make our own.  We found a good recipe, put the spices into the jars, sliced and chopped cucumbers to fill them, and added the vinegar and water.  They look mighty tasty, but we have to wait one more week for them to ‘pickle’ before eating them.

And there you have it…this time of year is very busy here in rural PA!  There are produce stands all over the place, not to mention the farm markets; and some ladies at our church are very busy canning and freezing and pickling!  We certainly don’t compare to the stockpiles some families amass, but we do make our own feeble attempt to preserve Summer’s Bounty!

MZBC Camp 2010

Our church’s camp went extremely well this year!  It was a long week: filled with plenty of action and adventure.  As a whole, we did things such as go-carting, canoeing, swimming, paintball, and a night activity.  Many made good decisions for God, and several were saved.

Sure, I am still catching up on sleep (I think, on average, I went to sleep at 2am, and woke up at 6:00am), and it is a lot of hard work and preparation; but it is all very rewarding.  We had a prayer list of things that we wanted to see God answer at camp, and He answered all of them specifically.  I pray that every decision would be kept for God’s glory.

I could probably go on for a while on everything, but that would all get kind of redundant.  Instead, I’ll just leave everyone with a few pictures:

This was taken before we left with those who rode the bus to camp...about 1/2 of those that actually were from our church.

______, Summer, Fall, Winter

Did I totally miss an important notice before we moved to Southeast Pennsylvania?  The weather seemed fairly normal through last summer: a few scorching days amidst the regular “dog days of summer.”  I first started to notice a difference in the fall–maybe around October.  The trees began to change colors in early October, then they stayed that way for weeks before they dropped.  We thought that was great!  I am used to the “peak” of the fall colors lasting for a week or less, then everything is grey until May.  Not here!

Well, we were HAMMERED with snow this year!  Did I say hammered?  It was crazy!  December was full of snow, then everything basically thawed out through the month of January a little.  In early February, amazingly, it all of the sudden turned 85 degrees and humid…wait, that is when we were in Mexico.  Anyway, while we were in the Yucatan, two HUGE snowstorms in a row decimated the mid-Atlantic.  We flew back to a car buried underneath two-and-a-half feet of snow, and a town crippled from the barrage.  Over the next month the snow slowly melted.  In fact, the last little bits did not melt until we were on our way to visit family in late March–yes, the same snow!

Now–almost 90 degrees???!  Where did spring go?  Do they not have that season here?  It wasn’t three weeks ago when there was still traces of snow on the ground!  The trees are nearly all full with leaves already, the spring flowers are past their peak, and we are outside sweating as we take an afternoon stroll…in early April.  Yesterday’s high temperature was 88 degrees, while today’s is supposed to be around 84 degrees.

…On the other hand, the early summer we have been experiencing will come crashing down sometime this evening.  A cold front will be moving in, causing 45 degree temperatures and heavy thunderstorms.  It should be interesting…

Here is a picture that we took yesterday at a park near our home while walking around in the hot weather: