A long-lost friend in Vermont with whom I’ve reconnected via Facebook posted a recent photo of herself with her two sisters. In the background was a most spectacular autumn scene, golds and reds as far as the eye could see. I commented on the beauty of it, saying perhaps one day we’ll come to visit — then added that John and I like to vacation in the “Great White North,” but only before it turns too white. In her reply, she said if we wanted to beat the whiteness, we’d better hurry.

Unlike us, people in Vermont pretty much know what to anticipate in October. I suspect by now the folks who live up there have already stashed away their wimpy shorts and t-shirts and pulled out the Big Guns — down jackets, possibly, and ear muffs. Long johns, wool socks and thick oversized sweaters.

If only it were so cut-and-dried here. Our October weather fluctuates wildly from one week to the next — often from one day to the next. Heck, even from one morning to one afternoon at times. In our pre-farm days, I remember more than once turning on the heat for my commute to work on chilly mornings, only to drive home that evening with the air-conditioner running.

Back then, I probably suffered the cold weather a bit more. See, as much as I wished to stay warm, fashion was an equal consideration. While I’d often shiver my way from the car to the office, the pain of it was brief and well worth any temporary discomfort as long as I felt like my outfit looked sharp.

Fashion at the farm isn’t quite so imperative — yet that’s not to say we don’t strive to keep up appearances. Heavens no. We all recognize the importance of maintaining a professional demeanor, in our actions as well as our wardrobe and accessory choices.

It’s just that when the temperatures take a sudden downward turn like they did early last week, we’re forced to scramble a bit to remember how to dress for it. When you work outdoors, draping your favorite little cardigan sweater across your shoulders isn’t going to do the trick.

Upon opening our hall closet for the first time in months on that brisk Monday morning, I halfway expected everything to start falling out like in sitcoms or old cartoons. Fortunately that didn’t happen — though I did find myself kind of ducking my head in anticipation — but it still took me a couple tries before I finally grabbed the old black pullover jacket I prefer on cool work days. At the last second I thought about my knit cap, too, one of the more practical Christmas gifts from Farmer John. (He’s good about including cute little sweaters, as well). After that, I dug deep into my bottom dresser drawer for a pair of flannel jammy pants.

The end result was a far, far cry from those stylish outfits of old (yet the color coordination adds a nice touch, don’t you think?).

Being the resident farm princess, I was the last person to venture out into the cold where I found Mary and John huddled over the chard and kale, both of them bundled and hooded.

The various greens were loving the weather. The rest of us, not so much. It was the abruptness of it, really, more than the temperature itself — it’s rough going from 90 degrees to the upper 40’s in only a day’s time. Vermonters at least have the luxury of easing into fall.

Such is October in Central Texas, however, as we all know. By the following day the mercury had risen, along with the humidity, and farm attire reverted back to what it was all summer.

The forecast for the remainder of this week is mild, but I’m not counting out the possibility of another heat wave before the fall season is finished with us. It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen an October day when the clothing of choice for some might look like this:

Thing is, there are only a few of us here at the farm who could pull that off…and at 57 years old, I’m not one of them. Despite the suddenness of cold fronts this time of year, there’s something to be said for covering up. I used to feel it was crazy to live somewhere with lots of snow, but now I’m thinking those Vermont folks are much shrewder than I’d ever imagined.

* * *

In addition to the usual (yet delicious!) standbys we’ve had for market lately, we’re beginning to harvest some new crops! Here’s what we’ll have for you this Wednesday:

Purple and golden beets (I don’t know if we’ll have a lot or just “some,” but we’ll bring as many as we can!); the first of the fall lettuce mix; Asian cucumbers, lots of chard, bunches of Dinosaur kale, curly kale, bunches of broccoli raab, bags of arugula, bulk Asian greens (great raw or cooked!), sweet Corno di Toro peppers, summer squash (zucchini, yellow, and Zephyr); Nubia and Beatrice eggplant, butternut squash, acorn squash, and some surprises many people will be happy to see!

Jo Dwyer
Angel Valley Organic Farm

Farm stands:

Saturdays 9:00-1:00 in Jonestown on FM 1431 at the blinking yellow light; and

Wednesdays 10:00-2:00 in NW Austin at the Asian American Center, 11713 Jollyville Road (1-1/2 blocks north of the intersection of Jollyville and Duval)