In the deep…

When people pass the Fourth of July and lament summer’s quickly approaching end, I have to shake my head. Why? Two reasons pop into my head, with the first being summer is nowhere near her sweet, humid, occasionally exceptionally hot end. We still have the whole long month of July before us before we’ll even notice the sun dipping below the trees earlier each evening, and August is hot and sticky too. Summer isn’t going anywhere, and even though parents might watch the calendar as the next school year approaches; it still means swimming in the pool or lake after school as a summer pleasure stolen from the approach of autumn.

The second reason why I like to luxuriate in the comfort of being in the middle of summer and nowhere past that point is because I’m from the north part of this country, and summer was just gaining her speed and strength by the Fourth of July! We finally had lakes warm enough (and warm is a relative term) to swim in and nights had blossomed with fireflies. The fans ran all day long, and even though we had some chilly nights from time to time.

My other thought about some people lamenting the loss of summer is it technically began mere weeks ago on June 21st, and summer’s deliciousness won’t end until September 21st. See how much time we have before we need to contemplate pumpkins, scarecrows and sweaters? We have all the time in the world. I suppose I have one other reason now that I dwell where summer is usually one long sweaty event. I finally fully embrace autumn when she wends my way sometime in mid to late September, due to the clear, crisp days that make me shake off the languid, long afternoons in summer. Afternoons spent hoping for the piles of cumulus clouds to turn blue and thundery just for a breath of fresh cool air. Those summer thunderstorms bring a pleasant breeze with gusts of coolness better than any ice cream sandwich.

I’m enjoying summer so much right now. The wedding was beautiful, fun and is over! All those months of planning came together in one wonderful weekend spent with friends and family, and the couple is still enjoying that honeymoon phase; so I’m going to let them have their privacy with their new life together. Meanwhile, I’m diving into those beach books that I only read in summer. Seriously. One of my life’s pleasures is books, and I intersperse my “serious” reads with easy ones meant to be enjoyed while listening the lull of ocean waves crashing on very hot sand. Beach books belong in summer, even if I’m just chilling out on the daybed in the air conditioning.

Since I haven’t been to the ocean yet this year, I’m picking photos taken at home. Where I live we do have storms that seem to pop up out of nowhere, and lucky me; I can walk out the door and have a front seat to the cloud show. Do you like to look up too? Isn’t the sky fascinating most any day, but especially these days that are suspended in sunlight? Is that why we enjoy the sudden darkening of the clouds, the tumult between white and blue?

Yesterday, my husband and I decided to sit out on the back porch and listen to the low rumble of thunder. I could barely see the clouds since they were so low on the horizon (and behind the swathe of trees), but my daughter said they had to stop swimming on account of the lightning. That meant a storm was near. So we sat and sweated and were rewarded with sudden stabs of lightning in the woods all around us! The cat wanted to go inside, and I suppose if I’d had better sense I would have followed, but the rain that went almost sideways in the downpour felt cool. Pleasant. And summer lays so much at our feet, doesn’t she?

Fresh tomatoes along with the basil that I’m growing is delightful on toasted bread. There isn’t even a need to add anything, though I doubt I could pass up some crisp bacon; hold the mayo, please. Opening the fridge and snacking on cut up sweet watermelon is a double delight, since the fridge spills cool air on my toes while I’m enjoying a farmer’s market find. Strawberry season just passed, but now the blueberries are ripe for picking, and soon the peach truck will wander our southern Ohio neighborhoods blessing us with the bounty found farther south than here. Many of us look forward to those peaches, and while I prefer blueberry cobbler to peach pie; many here make jams and jellies to remind them how summer tasted while they spread their jam on bread eaten on a cold January afternoon.

No story yet, because I have to mention my newest obsession with hydrangeas. The ones above are pretty, but after spending time in Louisville and seeing the blue or pink flowers so heavily laden on their branches; I knew I had to find a way to make them work in my garden here and in Kentucky. I’ve been wondering how to make them grow in this soil when I spotted them gracing the side of a house in my neighborhood. Nobody at Book Club tonight seemed to know if the neighbors are friendly, so I’m not certain if I can ring their doorbell and inquire as to their gardening techniques; but I’ll find a way to make hydrangeas work here. It’s been an obsession since we bought a house long ago where I inherited a magical garden.

All gardens are magical, since they exhibit the manner of the gardener. Some like a wild unkempt look while others must have order to their flowers, or at the least a theme running through their plants. I took on this beautiful garden filled with perennials and added to it over time. But I felt nervous at first, since the woman who sold us the house informed me she had spent hundreds of dollars on her flowers. I lost the phlox to mold, but the irises, clematis, roses, dianthus, larkspur and trumpet vine flourished. Summer is intoxicatingly beautiful most days, and my once forgotten love story with hydrangeas has been fully rekindled.

Gorgeous fountain, right? That’s included in my next blog post, but it’s so lovely that I had to add the photo here. But wait! I have a smallish story to tell you. When I lived in that 1920’s bungalow that had the wonderful garden, it did not have hydrangeas. Plenty of gardens in the neighborhood flaunted their bright blue flowers, but I felt slightly jealous and a bit bereft. I didn’t have much money to spend on anything back then, so the cost of that type of plant was out of the question. But on my walks I noticed which homes held the coveted flowers in their own magical gardens.

If only I could gather a few of them for myself, I could dry the hydrangeas and enjoy the blue hues long into the frozen days of winter; for dried hydrangeas last for years. I decided I was going to take a walk past a home the spilled forth with the blooms almost reaching the sidewalk. I reasoned that the flowers nearest me were begging to be taken, and the gardener would never know three or five blooms had been pilfered. Yes, I walked over a mile with a bag and scissors and a very guilty conscience, and mercifully a loudly barking dog in their front yard prevented me from becoming a hydrangea thief!

I look back now and am so thankful for that dog being there! But the story doesn’t end there. Not quite. I decided it was very wrong to take flowers from other people’s gardens, but late in that fall I happened to be tidying up the yard for the early Wisconsin winter when I spied several very neglected pee gee hydrangea bushes in the yard behind me. I couldn’t see their house due to the wall of evergreen trees that stood in their yard, and our yards were narrow and long. I asked my daughter to hop over the fence and grab a few green hydrangea stems, since they would look pretty in a wreath I was creating.

My daughter held her ground and said no, and I wound up walking around the block to ask them if I could have a few flowerets. The owners said they never went that far back in their lot, so I could have as many as I liked. Hydrangea happiness happened with no thievery involved. And as I plan to plant many hydrangea bushes as both houses, I hope I’ll share my (fingers crossed) bounty with my neighbors. What’s a few flowers between friends, right? It’s almost like borrowing a cup of sugar, except this is summer’s currency. The flowers of summer should be dried and linger long into the next year, where our eyes can feast on their colors!

Summer is here. The fireflies flicker each evening, the wishing star must wait until the sun has settled in bed for the night before it can appear. But even if our wishes must wait a bit longer right now, we can enjoy the forests, fields, skies, beaches, open air restaurants, newly born fawns or bunnies, storms, tee shirts, the droning of the fan, the trickle of the creek that happens only in summer and yes, even a longed-for garden. Wishes do come true. We don’t have to necessarily wait for that first star at twilight. We can wish to be right in the middle of summer, and here we are! In the middle with lots of fun left.

I’m wishing you all the happiness your hands and heart can hold…

Until next time,
Deanna

Of sunshine and laughter…

Summer still lingers, even though I spied the first mums at the grocery store yesterday, and some faux pumpkins too. I enjoy summer’s long days, where the angle of sunshine reaches out to places usually hidden in shadows, but I have to admit I fully embrace autumn. It wasn’t always this way. I lived life loving half the year, and spent the next six months is a purgatory of sorts, where I waited for spring. Everyday brought an extra minute or two of sunlight, and a return to living my best life, though I loved the occasional March thaw.

Most of my life I lived in the North, as in Upstate NY, land of snowy days starting in October and running until March. Did I mention the grey days that accompanied those snows? Then I lived in Wisconsin for twenty-two years, and yes I counted. Cold. Bitter, freezing cold to the point where I watched in shock as frost climbed the walls in my bedroom, and later in my own home, spreading across the back door and hallway. That’s cold. I counted the days until spring, and then I opened windows and slipped on my shorts when it hit sixty degrees. But then we moved. Seven hours south of north.

Cows at the farm next door…

That made all the difference. We still have all four seasons, but summer lingers until the end of September, when I’m ready for evenings where the chill curls around my legs, and adding a blanket on the bed feels good, even if I do keep the windows open. Then bring it on! Mums, pumpkins, and nights spent on the back porch listening to the creek talk to itself. The owls hoot in the evening, and I start to bring out throws for nights spent on the deck, watching the Harvest Moon sail high in the sky. Did you know the Harvest Moon is in September? October’s full moon is called the Hunter’s Moon. Interesting….

My copper comes out in autumn. It pairs with autumn colors so well…

I fell in love with autumn one day when dusting my parents’ room. I looked out the back window and saw the forest bordering our yard drenched in crimson, yellow, bright orange and burnt umber punctuated by the evergreens. I don’t know how long I watched the sunlight spotlighting the trees, and as soon as my Saturday chores were over, I ran outside and marveled at the lightening blues in the sky. Who knew the sky changed colors with the seasons? I had no idea until I turned nine. When did the world around you become noticeable, a presence who showed herself on some days, when others were shrouded in weeping, sodden clouds. Did you notice? Do you? Now?

The tombstones from over 100 years ago, on our land…

Yes, I’m lucky. I moved to a more temperate home. But I learned so much from being in the north. Things that might warm you through even if you’re basking in oceanside breezes come January. The people in the north are friendly, once you get to know them. You’ll be invited to soak in their hot tub, as I was, drinking wine on a frigid night, with the only issue trying to get home soaking wet and hoping to not turn into an icicle. Yeah, I didn’t properly think that one through, and she lived 400 yards away from me. Northerners get things done. It doesn’t matter the temp or if the sun sets close to 4:00, so you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark, and then if you’re lucky, you take a chilling 5K run…in the dark. We just do it.

the house last year….

They embrace cold, snow and laugh easily. I once attended a Green Bay Packers playoff game in January at Lambeau and froze. The people all around us laughed and cracked jokes, even though out team was losing to the Giants! They offered me hand warmers, but even I had to laugh when I told them I had hand warmers in my boot, mittens, and across my back. I still shivered. But I loved that even through a disappointing loss, the fans weren’t cussing, throwing beer or yelling awful things about the referee’s parentage. Being kind is a whole thing in the frozen tundra. I do miss the warmth of friendship carrying us through the cold and dark.

an impromptu country bouquet gathered in late summer….

Finding happiness where we are is essential. We have to make out peace with our place. I am thrilled to be where we are now, and yes, people are friendly here, but the summer days can be so hot that it seems like people spend their summer hidden inside. We learn how to enjoy the water, take walks in the cooler shade and these days we don’t have as much to distract us, so I think a whole world is rediscovering the pleasures of home. We can garden, even in a city. We can step outside and drink to the end of the day and a beautiful evening. We have the power over how we think.

Mostly. Sometimes medicine is needed. But if we’re doing fairly well, we can enjoy every drop of summer fun, listening to the cicadas and crickets. I love to light candles any night of the year, and I’m loving the fresh and citrus scents. Have you had a fish taco yet? Drank scotch neat? Binge watched a show with a lover, friend or cat? Had popcorn for dinner, heavy on the butter? Dipped your toes into a pond, ocean or creek? You know we have a creek here! Swoon. That’s my waterfront property. And I laugh with my husband, because the life by an ocean is out of reach now. And that’s a good thing.

the woods are lovely any time of year…

I loved, loved the ocean so much. I could go out in the waves and play in the turbulent waters of the Outer Banks, riptides and all. I took my kids to the pool every day each summer, and then I found out I had lupus. No big deal, right? Well, I wound up being severely affected by the sun. Sunlight makes me sick. So I’m enjoying autumn a lot more. Summer isn’t the best season for me, so I read a lot and emerge in the evenings. And nights! I’m all about loving the night. I could stay up until dawn. Seriously.

taken from high up in a tree on our farm….

That joke about having a creek as mine is funny and perfect! I made my peace with my new reality. Now I love the ponds at the farm and we have a creek there too. One that the neighbor’s cows love to cross to get to our fields. My doctor told me to embrace vacationing up north in the lands of my youth. Maine, Vermont, and the Adirondacks. And Scotland! My dream come true. Oh pandemic go away! We all want to move about the globe freely.

An August sunset is savored….

I want you to feel happy. I’m not thrilled about being stuck inside over summer, but that’s my reality. I’ve made my peace with it, and the north would be a good place for me, but my family is here now. It’s okay. Can you make peace with your reality? Can we find a way to enjoy where we are, whatever season it is, city or country, a pandemic or not, rich or poor, sick or well (you know where I land on this one), alone or with family, moving forward or staying still? I think we can. Quick! Make your list of things to do before summer slips silently away.

And then? Decide to make the most of the autumn. You might find it’s your new favorite season. It’s mine. And I’ll tell you a secret. I’ve been yearning to burn a raked pile of fallen leaves for decades. I know, it’s bad, so I won’t. Plus I have images of starting a huge fire, so I found a new….candle, yes, you know me by now, I love candles, and this promises to smell like a leaf pile burning. Enjoy the rest of August. Wherever you are.

I’m wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold…

Until next time,

Deanna