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The Fae Post # 11 Gray November

Much like October, November is a month I often miss if I don't pay close enough attention to it- the biting winds begin, everything becomes brown and gold, and suddenly it's soup season and the holidays are starting. We'll have evergreens cut and brought out to the workshop, and before you know it, December is here.

Fall cleanup drags on, and garden projects take less and less priority as we spend more time inside. At some point every November, I make the decision that some of the stalks from last season's garden can stay over winter to provide shelter for the songbirds- or at least that's my reasoning to stop and rest for a few days. But before the ground freezes solid, and after the first few hard frosts, comes the perfect time to unearth some of our favorite earthly delights- sunchokes!

We have a 3'x3' patch of the native beauty Helianthus tuberosus, also called sunchokes or jerusalem artichokes, that are in the sunflower family and come from central North America. The plants grow several feet tall and have happy little clusters of daisy-like yellow sunflowers on top. Bees and other pollinators adore the flat, brightly colored and pollen heavy blooms, deer love to eat the foliage (which we love because it promotes tuber growth and distracts them from our expensive sunflowers), and the flowers are excellent for cutting. The real gem, though, is the tuber each plant produces. They are fist-sized and starchy, and when cooked taste like a cross between a potato and a water chestnut. Like many wild or foraged foods, they can give folks a tummy ache if your stomach isn't used to them, so eat in small amounts first! Farmer Luke and I spent an entire evening digging up our patch and prepping them for our friends at Red Haven, who blended them with mashed potatoes for a specialty dinner.

Indoors, our Christmas cactus can't make up its mind as to which holiday it will bloom for, and set fat pink buds the week of Thanksgiving. Triggered to flower by the cold air in its spot right next to the kitchen window, this year has been the most successful bloom in a few years. In their native habitats, zygocactus wait until the cooler months to flower so that the delicate petals won't be so damaged by the hot summer sun, making them more likely to be pollinated.

The untimely beautiful pink blossoms are a lovely prompt to be grateful for the unexpected this year. With Thanksgiving coming and going quickly, and time with our families never quite long enough, it's a welcome reminder of the love that surrounds us, whether or not we've asked for or deserve it. We are grateful for your business, your pictures, your delighted notes of thanks, and mostly for your love and friendship this year. And we never want to stop saying how much we love you- as my favorite mug from my grandparents says- it's a sentiment that bears repeating.




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