Hawthorne and sky

Hawthorn and sky

Let’s not discuss the demise of the garden yet.

Let’s instead backtrack to yesterday afternoon before the frost decided to ice the land with its cold white fingers.  The frost was still plotting back then.  It was chortling, “If we can just get that temperature to agree, to go a bit lower…  If we could just coax it below 32 degrees then…goodbye gardens!  Hello bright autumn leaves!  It’s Time.”

I may have some frost photos for tomorrow’s blog, but we’re backed up in photos right now.  We’re backed all the way up to our little jaunt to the Arvon Slate Quarry yesterday afternoon.

1 p.m. yesterday:  jump in 1949 Studebaker pickup truck and drive up the Arvon Road.  We’re aiming for the Bush.  That’s what they call the backcountry around here.  We’re aiming to put the truck in 4 wheel drive and slog through muddle puddles that may or may not have a solid bottom.  We’re aiming for the Quarry.

1:15:  drive past a Ghost Town.  The Ghost Town of Arvon.  (That’s where those hawthorn berries are growing up to the heavens.)  I wish I could show you abandoned buildings, old footings, anything.  But no.  Arvon has disappeared into the earth; swallowed whole.  There are simply old apple trees and hawthorn bushes.  And the singing of the wind.  Ghosts may be dancing there at midnight, but we didn’t see any yesterday.

Should we or shouldn't we?  Let's tighten the hubs & put her in 4 wheel drive, shall we?

Should we or shouldn't we? Let's tighten the hubs & put her in 4 wheel drive, shall we?

1:45 p.m.: It  took us a little time to forge through the rivers of water which covered the two-track road.  Want to know a little history about the Arvon Slate Quarry?  More than 300 people lived in this area during the quarry’s heyday.  Waste slate piles and a water pit remain from the Slate Mining operations that began in 1870, ending in 1892.  Henry Ford pumped the water from the pit and mined slate for his operations in the 1920s.  One can see the foundations of some early slate buildings, drainage ditch and piles of waste slate.  The pit makes for a peaceful small lake.  (Or so say the local history pages, anyway.)

A mountain of "waste" slate

A mountain of "waste" slate

I can’t tell you how many locals have taken advantage of the Slate Quarry over the past century, gleaning the beautiful slabs of “waste” slate and lugging them home in pickup trucks.  Of course we wouldn’t do such a thing.  (Or would we?)  Sometimes, in the old days, one might see a half dozen other trucks backed up to the quarry with the tailgate open.  Nowadays, it’s much rarer to see folks pilfering slate.  However, come to think of it, how would I know?  We haven’t been up there in twenty years, perhaps.

Yesterday it was hard to even figure out how to forge the rivers which blocked the two-track.

Slate quarry lake

Slate quarry lake

Years ago Barry remembered seeing the foundations of old buildings.  We searched for a good half hour, but only found one pile of slate which looked like it might…I repeat might…be an old building.  What do you think?

Maybe?  Old building?  Guess you would have to see it yourself.

Maybe? Old building? Guess you would have to see it yourself.

What a lovely afternoon we spent rambling in the slate.  Slipping and sliding in some places.  Snapping photos.  Sharing a memory or two.  Excited about what was happening on the blog back at home (with the little unexpected publicity from the WordPress folks.)  Completely in the dark about the cunning plans of the frost.  Completely!  Well, not entirely completely, because we both heard the words “frost warning” but  brushed it off lightly thinking, “Oh not us.  We’re too near the lake.  We won’t get frost.”

Yet another view of Slate

Yet another view of Slate

Famous last words.  Barry was heading in to the house from the garage near 1 a.m. when he saw the frosty world.  ACTION!  Time to scurry!  He dove into the garden, rescuing every last tomato, cucumber, pepper.  Faster than a speeding bullet he worked to save our meager harvest before the claws of frost pierced the vegetables.

And he did it!  Good man!  Good husband!  What a trooper!  (Except for the basil, but we’ll forgive him.  As I was sound asleep and would have inadvertently allowed the garden to freeze solid.)

The circle of life -- on slate

The circle of life -- on slate

We hear much of Michigan had frost last night.  So it’s officially autumn.  It’s also officially October.  And, as my mom pointed out today: I have been incorrectly calling our September warm weather days “Indian Summer”.  No.  That was a mistake.  Indian Summer happens after the first frost.  Now that I have that straightened out…Let’s have a little Indian Summer, shall we?