Though it’s been getting downright chilly in Boise, Idaho—with a dusting of snow flurries here and there—winter in the United States officially begins with the Winter Solstice (also known as Yule, or the Longest Night) on Saturday, December 21, 2019.
I took this photo in Garden Valley, Idaho, this past summer, when we were camping at their lovely fly-in airport campground. They start getting ready for winter early, and for a good reason, their elevation is much higher than ours, so they get snow—in earnest—early!
Mornings are crisp and the evergreens flanking our front porch steps have donned festive red berries.
Goldenrod shows off its honey-colored mane as it beckons with a come-hither sway in the late afternoon sun.
All signs that autumn—a time of harvest, a time of reflection—is on its way. Len and I have played hard (and I do mean hard) all summer. Now is the season we intentionally downshift and live gently—we reflect, and we recharge our personal batteries.
“Autumn’s the mellow time.” – William Allingham, poet
You’ve seen them. Those things that look like cherry tomatoes or large berries flirting with you from between the leaves on your rose bushes. Those are rose hips. They form after the rose bloom has died. They’re typically red or orange, but depending on the type of rose bushes you have, they can also be purplish to black in color.
Providing almost 20-times the amount of vitamin C as oranges, rose hips are an incredible source of vitamin C. In addition to their anti-inflammatory properties, they also help to protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease.
You can use them fresh off the vine, dried, or preserved. They can be used in apple sauce, soups, stews, syrups, puddings, jelly/jam, bread, and pie. My favorite way is to use them is to make rose hip tea. Regardless of how you use them, you’ll need to prepare them first.
Place the hips on a clean surface to dry. When the skin begins to look slightly shriveled it’s time to split the hips in half and remove all the seeds and tiny hairs in the center. After the seeds and hairs are removed, let the hips dry completely. Don’t wait to remove the seeds until the hips are completely dry because it’s harder to de-seed them.
If they’re not going to be used within the week, store the prepared hips in sealed plastic bags and freeze them. If you’re going to use them in the next few days, simply place them in the refrigerator. Somewhat like dried cranberries, they can be eaten as a healthy snack anytime.
Boil the dried and crushed rise hips for about 10 minutes (about 2 tablespoons of berries per pint of water). If the mint in your garden took over like ours did this year, you can add a crushed mint leaf (fresh or dried). Depending on your geographic location, you may even be fortunate enough add a few hibiscus flower petals as well.
If you’re going to add honey, make sure it’s locally grown – this will help to combat allergies.
In the first picture of the slideshow you can see autumn showing off in the “spotlight” across the street, teasing us with falling temperatures. Not to be outdone, several other bold and brassy trees flaunted themselves at us as well.
In light of this wanton display, Len did a “batten down the hatches and prepare to take on water” routine around the garage and yard—changed the furnace filter, cleaned the air ducts, did leaf removal from yard and rain gutters, brought a load of fire wood into the house, had Jiminy Chimney clean our woodburning stove and pipe, lubed the garage door opener tracks against freezing, weather-stripped the back door, sealed the garage windows, put the ice scrapers in the car, took down the wind chimes, and yanked stuff from the garden and put it into the compost bin. By the look of him, you’d think that snow is on its way. And by golly, it is!
What was I doing during all of this, you ask? Why making a huge batch of chili and then freezing it to enjoy in the coming cold winter nights.