Monday, July 6, 2009

Sipping Summer Slowly With Delight

Last year summer vanished in a wildfire and a series of heat waves that thundered through my life and stole away my joy. (Okay, I admit I groused it away on many an occasion, but still . . .) This year I made a promise to myself to find the fountain of joy in the midst of my lesser-favored time of year. So far I have found a freshet that shows little sign of waning.

The coolness of our summer temps delights me no end. I can even be out in the gardens at midday without crisping in a flash. The damp dew-speckled pathways grow lush with pennyroyal and I celebrate the herbal “lawn” I have sought for years. Chamomile proved too delicate for my arid lands and thyme too rampant – though both still grow merrily here and there effusing the air with each crushing footfall. This minty-sweet pennyroyal carpet boasts deep purple flowers and happily spreads with abandon in the shady and sunny spots.

I do not court any of the traditional lawns as they prove too greedy for my rain-free locale in the cleft of the Sierras. So, when I discovered this patch of persistent purpleness I kept my eye on it, expecting it to curl up and vanish or grow leggy and unsightly. On the contrary, each mowing produced a renewed vigor and the driest of spots sported patches taking root with glee. Now, I am sure in some gardens this little runner would be despised, but I see it as a gift. Running across the damp leaflets in the early hours brings a tangy excitement into the air, and at dusk -- as I scurry around with secateurs and tidiness in mind -- the fragrance of after-dinner-mint brings a smile to my face.

I grew up in apartments and condos that offered little in the way of “gardens” to roam, but my steady flow of reading ignited a dream of one day having gardens to ramble with sights, sounds, and smells to feed all the senses. My “Secret Garden” dream spun so long ago while reading and lounging in the afternoon heat continues to grow and expand with each season. Just the other day I bought a trumpet vine of the most vibrant coral-red. Its two tubular blooms have called the hummingbirds to celebrate its arrival. One day I will have a splendiferous vine engulfing the remaining patio post (of most practical black metal, though rather un-beautiful for the moment . . .).

Even now I sit upon my deck, hearing a distant neighbor practice a real trumpet (he/she’s quite good actually), listening to the splash of the fountains, catching giggles from the surrounds as the girls run and discover newness since yesterday’s games. So many things I nearly missed as I mapped out my To Do list of chores and deeds that filled the day from end to end.

But then . . .

I stopped and remembered that I had vowed to enjoy this summer as never before. Dishes can be loaded or sudsed after sunset, or even later if I choose to stay out and watch the bat ballet that occurs each eve at twilight. Feeding the chickens their final snack before bedtime proves a most enjoyable game with many vying for the honor of being “popular” with the feathered-ones. Tonight’s fare includes melon rinds and seeds, tomato tops, eggplant remains, and mushy raspberries absent-mindedly forgotten in the bin – my loss, their gain.

I now refer to the chickens as feathered folk or happy ones, as we still cannot discern whether we have a rooster (or two) among the lot. All research and questioning of those chicken folk we know has resulted in the same answer: Just wait and see. So we wait and wonder and chat about ideas should we have one or more roosters. To date we plan to keep one rooster with the hopes of raising our own chickies next year; any additional cockerels will be offered as pets to others. So far they all act like hens . . . but what do we know?

Thus my days run one into another with a gentle read to fill any quiet moment.
Of late I am enjoying The Heart on the Right Side by Carolyn Jourdan – a true story involving a career girl who leaves her DC senate aid position to come home to rural Tennessee to help Dad run his country doctor practice while Mom recovers from a heart issue. So far it has proven a delight without the pitfalls of most books I have attempted this summer. I don’t care to read of someone else’s intimate antics, nor do I want a mouthful of cursing on each page. I began Blessed Are the Cheesemakers based on a recommendation and then quickly tossed it aside as the material simply annoyed me with its baseness. (Glad I borrowed the disappointment from the library.)

I have found as I gain in years that I love a good true-life adventure more than an orchestrated novel. Each has a place in a well-balanced diet of reads, but the truth of a life lived out in ordinary detail and drama fascinates me. To see how one handles life as it comes, not as it has been created for effect, grabs my heart every time. Thus blogs interest me so. This one cannot decide which house to buy (if any), that one has just finished her house and moved into a new phase, another travels to many delicious destinations, while yet another stays home with feet in boots to observe life with as much joy and wonder as those traipsing over new paths. Summertime fun in a houseful of kids spills laughter across the web, at the same moment that a quiet cottage shelters one who struggles to understand some facet of life. Somewhere out there a woman counts the days ‘til her beloved returns, and in an entirely different corner of the world another wipes away tears of great loss.

LIFE . . . living . . . lively . . . alive . . .

I see the blog as a farmer’s market of lives open for a visit, extending a hand of friendship, seeking more than just the passing bump of another in the checkout line at the market. Each Saturday I rise earlier than usual and hurry off with my woven baskets, a fistful of cash, and the eager anticipation of buying fresh fruits, vegetables, and eggs from the people who worked to bring in the crop. I shake hands that held the very produce that I will in turn prepare and serve to my family. I am learning them all by name and by crop and by personality.

"Yes, that man makes the best pesto, but his gruffy nature detracts from the quality. A smile would go a long way in boosting sales with me." (Do you hear the challenge in my voice? Will my smile game bring forth a flash of pearly white along with the pesto purchase next week? I’ll keep trying.)

"That Peach Guy has the sweetest disposition and his peaches sweeter still."

"Hurry, hurry I want to get to Jonette’s booth before her eggs disappear. Gone by 8:35? Bummer! Hey, those patty pan look fabulous – I’ll take four!"

And on it goes as I savor the summertime fun of shopping the farmer’s market, strolling the cool evening gardens, reading a light and fun book (keeping tissues at hand for those few “moments”), and wandering around the blog-o-sphere to peek in and see what each of you happens to be up to at the moment.

I sip. I savor. I soak it all in. And it is good.

Keeping a promise. Finding a new way. Reaping joy.

How’s your summer going?


Sharon said...

The more I learn about you the more I am convinced we are twins sadly seperated at birth! LOL What a wonderful post dear friend!Love you...say hello to Grass Valley for me...and Sac as well...LOL...Sharon

farmlady said...

Last summer was so awful. The heat, the fires, and the smoke seemed like it would never go away. I know there will be more heat and fires are inevitable but this has been a lovely summer so far.
I work in my garden, take long walks and enjoy the blessings of summer right now, trying not to anticipate any later hardships. A new puppy, a very sick mother; a rattlesnake, a lovely Rose. In everything there is good/bad, happiness/sadness,and change. (Which will come). But there will be "Joy in the Morning" and we are so lucky to be living in such a beautiful part of the world.

Thanks for the thoughtful and lovely post.

Grandma Tillie's Bakery said...

Well, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed this post from beginning to end--thank you! My family is sound asleep after a too hot 80 degree day and I am alone at the computer to visit my friends and catch up on what everyone has been doing this past week.

Your photos and flowers are simply wonderful!

jojo said...

This is one of your most beautiful posts..and I think most of them are! I can almost feel the dew on my feet as I read about your gardens. Your Secret Gardens, how lovely. Thank your for reminding me to slow down and enjoy the day ahead, to take time to enjoy the garden and to dream..;p

Tricia said...

You write in such beautiful prose. I read it, then re-read it while it begins to soak in. And it always blesses me.

My summer, you ask? I had made the same commitment to savor this summer as they usually go by way to fast with digging out after the winter and all the things that seem important at the time, but senseless later. So, with all the bumps in the road, this is one of the best summers we have enjoyed in a long time.

God bless.

gail said...

Hi Debbie,

Well we had our coldest day this winter yesterday and I am looking forward to next summer. We soon will be moving back out of the city into the country again and I am like you dreaming of my garden and some little hens. I loved your post and I to, will not waste time on books that don't bring joy to my soul. Enjoy your days in the sun.


Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

My summer cannot decide if it wants to be too cool or too hot. Mostly we've been unusually cool but up pops a few really hot days.

Your post reminded me of early spring each year when the sweetest violets can be found all over the grass. I think of them as a gift from God. My husband calls them weeds.

scrappy quilter said...

What wonderful words. You are one beautiful author.

Our summer is cool, so much different than normal. I'm so enjoying it. Hot weather and I don't agree.

Hope you're summer continues to be all you want it to be.

Karen Deborah said...

Dear friend your words brought respite and quiet to my troubled fearful heart. God is good, he provides just what we need. I too love the farmers market of blog land. the glimpses into real lives. It is so much richer than any fabricated fiction; rich and true, and we give each other community. At times even more than that.

Ruth MacC said...

Hello there,
my Summer is going well! Weather is better than last year which is a real plus. Took the dog for a long walk today in the light drizzle and loved it, because it's still warm. When I feel tired and in need of a 'pick-me-up' as my mum used to say, I visit your blog along with a few other and it refreshes me:0)

Keep up the good work, love reading about it.