Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sweet and cold

Yet another night of survival of the most frost-tolerant here. The courage to visit the peppers out back hasn't yet arrived for me. I did see that the side of the front not under the street tree had a bit of frost on it -- mostly it's the artichoke I'm concerned about out there (although if the aphids infesting it got hit, that would certainly make up for a bit of frost damage!).

I know that to those of you up to your knees or necks in snow and ice, my whining about the weather only confirms the worst stereotype of Californians, especially the crazy tree-hugging econuts in the bay area. As I told Eric when I'd wear a sweater at 80F in Arizona, it's not the absolute temperature that matters, it's the relative one. We're just not used to (nor are our flimsy Victorian houses made for) weather much under 40F. Neither are many of our plantings.

On my way back inside after the school run, I went to examine the neglected rasperries on the side -- their support wires need redoing to follow the slope of the yard. For now, they're just sprawling.

I found these two, with more behind!

They were so cold that they didn't taste until they'd warmed up in our mouths. It's really not the season for these, and they aren't "Fall Gold." In fact, I don't think those bore this year. I think they're just dual season red ones that fired a little late.

I don't know whether to apologize or revel. We may have crazy politicians; our houses may cost more than is reasonable (and be worth less than we owe on them); we may spend too much on good coffee and talk about local food enough to make people roll their eyes, but darnitall, I've got berries in December.

Now I'm going to huddle by the heat stove and drink tea.


Michelle said...

Raspberries! I confess, I'm happy to be a crazy, tree hugging, coffee slurping, weather wimpy Californian. But it's all I've ever known!

I'm sure your artichoke will be ok, I have one in a pot in the coldest corner of my garden and it survived. But the peppers.... sorry.

el said...

Ah you big wimp! ;)

(Although listen to me: moved from Minnesota to Michigan because the former REALLY was too cold.)

Those berries look delightful. Little bitty gifts.

Daphne Gould said...

Hey I have raspberries in December too. I was shoveling this morning and noticed that a couple had fallen off the bush. I had frozen raspberries. OK I confess I haven't been picking them. They are totally tasteless this time of year. I always quit picking sometime in November. I bet yours taste better than mine.

Toni said...

I'm getting warmed up just reading your post!
24 degrees below zero in the wilds of northern Wyoming... Burr!

Heiko said...

We're still picking the odd strawberry. Raspberries don't like our summers at all! Too hot and dry around here below 1500 feet altitude they say.

Jeff Vandiver said...

Well, it's cold pretty much everywhere these days.All I can say is welcome to the club. Heh. I know y'all ain't used to this, or your homes really built for it either - but just get a warm blanket and put a good movie on. It'll be ok.....

Ribbit said...

OK, forget the peppers, do your bees handle the cold? That's my chief concern. ;)

Kristin said...

I concure with you wholeheartedly and I like the photo of your hand with the berries. Nice shot.

Kate and Crew said...

You think Californians are wimpy? You've got nothin' on us Floridians. We're weak as water! Our weather-guy just said on the news yesterday to send kids to school with a jacket because although the day will start out in the mid 70s, it will be in the mid-50s by the afternoon and the kids will want jackets. I put jeans on today just in case...

Ottawa Gardener said...

I would have been revelling myself ;) My mom lives in lotus land north (Gulf Islands) and she tells me frequently of her harvests.

Are your peppers in some kind of tunnel or just out in the open?

Mr. H. said...

I wish I was in California today.:( But please do revel, you live in a beautiful place with normally nice weather...I would most certainly revel in that. We also had some yummy frozen raspberries this morning, but alas, they were from our freezer.

I have an off topic question for you...sorry. I started some of my dairy kefir grains in juice after writing my post and talking to you. What I am wondering is how do I tell if my "water" kefir experiment has worked? Dairy kefir gets thick what should I look for in water kefir? Fizzy, stinky, strong?

By the way, anytime you want some dairy kefir grains what's mine is yours. We have too many as it is. Stay warm!

Jackie said...

Too funny!!! Thanks for cheering me up after a long day at work.

kitsapFG said...

We typically get relatively mild winters here in the coastal pacific northwest - you have to inland to get the colder conditions - but for the past several years we are now experiencing a longer and more bitter period of cold.

When it gets cold, I appreciate our wood stove, well stocked pantry, and bed made up with thick down comforters all the more.

Stefaneener said...

Wow -- I'm behind.

Michelle, I am so with you. I've lived all over, and I feel blessed to be here. Even while I'm totally aware of the ludicrous parts.

el, I so am! It's cold cold cold. Thank goodness I knit.

Daphne, I can't wait to see how they produce if I actually pay attention to them. Surely now it's too cold and wet for any more to ripen. They did taste good, though.

Toni, you are a weather stud. I just couldn't do it!

Heiko, there are wonderful benefits to the Mediterranean climate!

EG, thanks. Our TV is down in the unheated basement -- we really have to want to watch something on a big screen to brave it these days!

Ribbit, the bees cluster and "shiver" to generate heat. They keep the hive at 98F, actually, and the outside ones move to the middle to keep everyone okay. The priority is keeping the babies warm. If it stays too cold for too long, like in places with "real" winter, they can starve because they won't move away from the cluster to eat. That's sad. Mine will get the occasional break, not only to eat stored honey, but to fly outside to poop, and to forage. We always get some sun in early January. I do have screened bottoms on the hives, so they're not warm like that. . . but they'll make it.
I hope.

Kristin, thanks. Every once in a while there's a good one.

Kate, I'm glad it's not just me. Growing up in Southern CA, anything under 70 meant jackets! My children will often stubbornly underdress. Besides, we're tough Northern Californians!

OG, thanks. It's hard not to brag. Not like I do anything, I just enjoy it. I had the peppers in the open, then I put a comforter cover over them, then it rained and I uncovered them again. A couple got frost-killed, but some look as though I could coax them through. I'm neutral either way.

Mr. H., our weather is pretty wonderful. That's one reason it's so expensive to live here. That, and everyone likes earthquakes so much.
For water kefir, I follow some information I got here:

The smell changes some, but it's really flavor. I suppose temperature has something to do with it, but it can get sparkly flavored, or just "done." I'm not sure there's a right way to do it. My kids aren't wild about it, unfortunately, but I do like the honey mead. I could send you some of mine also. If I decide to go dairy again I'll let you know. Thanks for the offer.

Susan said...

Ooh, they look tasty. We actually had snow all over our arugula, but it survived. I think being a quintessential California green it chalked the snow up to a bad trip and went right on growing.

chaiselongue said...

We're not used to the cold here either, so we complain much more than people in more northern climates when it happens! We can't grow raspberries here. As Michelle says, I'm sure your artichoke will be OK - ours are fine through the very coldest weather we get here, which can occasionally be minus 6 C (not sure what that is in F, but it must be 20-something) but it's dry cold. The peppers, though .... well, they don't survive a frost. Keep warm!