Monday, 14 October 2013


Apple tree in fog
"Trees, trees, stern majesties, I rely upon you, place my reliance on you," sings Veda Hille on her album This Riot Life.  She hails from Vancouver and the trees I imagine she is referring to are massive mountain pines and firs.  The trees of eastern Ontario are different but equally impressive for their colour.  I am from Alberta where the trees are fewer and further between.  Maples still remind me that I am not from here; I didn't grow up with them and they still feel foreign.

The central fixture of our treeline is the apple tree that is set apart from the others, beside the road midway between the highway and the house.   It is healthy and full-figured.  The apples on this tree are good - they are sweet and abundant.  Thus far we have managed a good batch of hard cider, a few yogurt tubs worth of apple chips and a few jars of sauce.  We have saved about a bushel of fresh apples that will relieve our fruit budget for a while.  

XB picking apples, climbing the apple tree with cat-like agility
Frontenac is promoting its eco-tourism appeal:  fishing, hiking, ornithology, tree-gazing in fall...and most Frontenacians are pleased with the fact that this has not brought hordes of tourist buses.  There are few resorts, though there is a handful of bed and breakfasts.  North Frontenac is designated a Dark Sky Preserve.  It has a low population and is far enough away from any urban area that its skies keep pretty much unblemished.  South Fontenac is close to Kingston and the southern edge of the sky is generally glowing slightly, but the stars are still quite spectacular here.

Back to trees.  They are valuable in many ways:  they retain moisture, produce oxygen...okay, I am not revealing anything groundbreaking.  They are a good way to produce mushrooms and we will be growing some Shiitake and Oyster next season.  This invloves drilling holes in the logs, filling with spores, and then waiting and watching, ensuring certain moisture and shade conditions remain stable.  There aren't a lot of farms around that are devoting their energies to this, but mushrooms, while not as beloved in Canada as they might be in parts of Europe and Asia, are loved greatly by those who do love them.  I would recommend "Know your Mushrooms" to get a taste of what true enthusiasts look and sound like (they are interesting) and what mushrooms are really like, beneath the superficial experience most of us have with them (they are interesting).  I learned that they are the oldest living organisms recorded in the history of the earth, and they are cleansing:  it is said that oyster mushrooms can clean oil spills, and make all the toxic waste disappear without a trace.  And they are nutritious too.  And, they are delectable.  And underneath the ground, they are everywhere.

A section of the woodlot

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