Everyone I have seen recently seems to be out of sorts. There are several possible explanations. Certainly there is Covid fatigue and of course the state of our nation and world. The change in weather, while a wonderful relief, does signal the end of summer. I for one am happy about it, but there is a sense of unease. I wonder if, in our DNA, we become concerned about our readiness for winter. Back in the caves, preparation meant life and death.

I’m irritated with myself. For several years I yanked the hot peppers from the ground and hung them to dry with all their ripe fruits. This year I thought I’d save the mess in the back room and pulled all the chilies from the plants. They refuse to dry even when placed in the oven with just the pilot light. Live and rarely, if ever, learn.

I have an elderly barn cat who lives in  my off-site greenhouse. I store his kibble in a large metal cannister. On Monday it was missing. I found it some 50 feet away with scratch marks all over it. The culprit was a large raccoon. I identified it by its pawprints. I’ve said many times in this column, I loathe raccoons. If I forget to close the henhouse even one night, they come to kill and often don’t even eat the poor things.

I have a 15-year-old heptacodium, aka seven son flower. It is a multi-season ornamental originating in China. It has wonderful exfoliating bark for winter and spring interest. Then it is a late-summer bloomer with fragrant white blossoms covered with bees and butterflies. Once the flowers fall, a red sepal lasts until a hard freeze. Recently, my specimen dropped its flowers and I noticed quite a bit of movement on the ground underneath it. Bumblebees were trying to get their last taste of the fallen petals.

My potato crop was very disappointing this year and I alone am to blame. I neglected my watering duties several times. They were small and when cooked remained hard. They were desperate for moisture their entire lives. One fun thing — several had sprouted and formed new plants. I left them in hopes of some tiny ones in a month or so.

Last week I mentioned my squash crop. Unfortunately I had to pick them all early to make way for some big machinery. I was concerned that they needed more time to ripen and cure. I cooked a couple this past week and am happy to report they were delicious. I had to hack them up with a meat cleaver. They were too big for a knife. They do require a fair amount of work to prepare. I’m always amazed at the relative cheapness of canned and or frozen foods at the market.

I stayed up way past my bedtime on Tuesday night. Violet and I watched the presidential debate together. Donald Trump gives all new meaning to the term bully pulpit. His behavior was at the very least embarrassing. One of the commentators afterwards said that Chris Wallace deserved combat pay.

Violet received several phone notifications from her college-age friends during the debate. I am pleased that her peers are so interested in the whole process. They all became voting age this year. I voted for Lyndon Johnson the year I turned 18 in his race against Barry Goldwater. People, please make a plan and vote. It’s a right and a civic duty. We are blessed to have the privilege.