Postcards from a Summer Almost Past
I remarked in a recent entry that this spring was “like an elegant beauty, slowly descending the long staircase in her gauzy gown of green and gold, sprinkling white, purple, and buttery yellow flowers as she goes.” Given such a grand entrance and a remarkable performance, you could argue summer had a tough act to follow. And so — as you would expect — summer turned out to be the bashful boy hiding in the shadows of his mother’s gauzy gown, peeking out every once in a while to boast moments of warmth and attempt brazen acts of bravery only to quickly retreat into the safety of the shadow of spring each time.
It was cute the first few times, this timidity. I’m never in too big a hurry to wander into summer’s heat-induced torpor, after all. But — when it was mid-July and I found myself wearing a hoodie well into the afternoon and even questioning whether or not I should wear shorts when heading out to the garden — I was a bit annoyed.
With all the busyness surrounding the garden, tending to the harvests in the kitchen, and hosting our summer guests, I’ve sorely neglected this blog. And, now, summer’s nearly gone — just a mere three weeks until the official beginning of autumn! Rather than write eleventy entries in a futile attempt to bring you all up to speed, today I decided to give you a photographic review of all that’s happened while we’ve been out of touch — little postcards that captured our summer’s activities and aspirations.
We’ve, thankfully, had lots of sunshine to make up for our lack of summer heat. Though the tomato crop is hesitant to blush and ripen, nevertheless, the garden has been overflowing with blossoms and bounty — doing its best to outwit the tantrums of a summer still clinging to its mother’s skirt-tails.
Marty’s garden (the flower/herb garden at the center of our vegetable garden) was awash in all sorts of colors, this summer.
I think the most gratifying moments in the flower garden, this year, were spent just sitting back and watching as the plants established themselves and filled in the beds maybe a little more snugly than I’d anticipated. The most exciting, of course, was waiting as buds finally formed and then the color of the blossoms were revealed. Most of the flowers we started from seed, this year, were in the form of “blends” and “mixes”, so you can never be sure which colors will be present from the seedlings that survive. It was a veritable rainbow by the middle of summer!
And, of course, the vegetables — those unsung workhorses of the garden whose work may be less picturesque but no less valuable…
Not pictured, above, are the rows and rows of red and yellow onions we ripped from the ground earlier this month so they could begin curing for winter storage; my first-ever successful harvest of not one but four heads of cabbage; the massive harvest of collard greens we blanched and put into the freezer; and the pending harvest of pumpkins that I’m too superstitious to claim before they’re picked. And, of course, how can you depict in a photo the heroics of a lettuce that refuses to bolt in the heat of summer, providing you with fresh salads all summer long — even giving you the joy of bringing guests out to the garden so they can watch you harvest dinner?
Oh — and our guests and the places we went together! What a fun time we’ve had sharing with all our friends and family who’ve come to visit, this summer. Summer weather wasn’t always here for your visit, but hopefully the warmth of the welcome made up for it!
When you live in Northwest Michigan — where the promise of summer may be the only reason to get up in the morning (at least in March) — you find your summertime wanderlust is pretty minimal. No matter where you are, you’re never far from a beautiful beach, a secluded hiking path, kitschy shopping, or nice restaurants… so why leave home?! Still, while mom was in town, we decided to venture just a bit further north to visit Petoskey, Bay View, and Harbor Springs (where we’ve also visited in autumn).
For just a few nights, we left our own slice of summertime heaven to experience summertime elsewhere. While there, we did a little shopping, a little hiking, a little dining out… you know, all that good stuff. The sunsets and wildflowers were just beautiful — such a privilege to witness them in their shining moments.
And now, as summer is waning, I watch as the maples hint at so many colors other than emerald. As nature begins its gradual winding down, things have been getting rather busy in the kitchen. The canning pot boiling away, the jam pot steaming and simmering, the cutting board in constant use, odd stains on the fingers, pepper and tomato seeds showing up in very random places about the house and body… yep, it’s not quite summer and not quite autumn — it’s canning season.
When I look back on this summer, what will I think of most — which moment or memory will pop into my mind’s eye first? Every season has its own unique beauty, its own sense of harmony and balance. What I’m beginning to notice, within this beautiful cycle of four seasons, is that the lingering sensation lies in those few things that do not change even amidst the most astounding metamorphoses which delight your senses momentarily before fading. Maybe the biggest gift of change is gratitude for the simple and unchanging.