posts tagged with 'summer'

garden summer

Summer has begun in the garden. Studying the forecast, I decided on Monday that we wouldn't have any more frosts this year. So now I get to plant out all the seedlings that have been crowding up the house since February!

lots of seedlings on the porch

they look ready for some dirt

Well, there were only a few back in February, and they were little. But over the past few weeks there's been lots of back and forth from tables inside to different spots outside, with varying levels of sun and wind, as we worked to get seven or so trays hardened off and ready for life in the garden. The tomatoes were the first to go in, yesterday evening when I finally had a moment after a long day of learning and boating. The smell of the salt marsh hay mulch with is the best. Summery.

baby tomato plants mulched with marsh hay

lots of growing to do

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the marks of summer

It's wintery cold this morning, but last week had some days where summer was clinging on and on one of them I had a summery experience that I'd so far avoided this year: I got poison ivy.

Some people claim to have no reaction to poison ivy; others are terrified and stay away from any and all leaves to avoid the itchy curse. I definitely have a reaction, but at this point in my life I guess I feel like it's an inevitable part of summer. And while I've definitely had big terrible rashes in my life—as a kid—these days it doesn't hit me so hard. My current exposure dates to last Friday when we were doing trail building. Moving rocks we came upon some yellowing poison ivy leaves, and I donned gloves and a plastic bag over my hands to pull them up. Then I also probably touched the roots when I was scrabbling in the mud around the rocks. I washed my hands well, but didn't get far enough up my arms; maybe Wednesday I came out with the rash on the inside of my forearms.

But as I say it's not so bad. Sometimes it itches, in which case it's pleasant to scratch. Often I forget about it. Given that mild level of severity, I count it as nothing more than a sign of a summer well lived. So it's a good thing I got it in before it was too late! Now bring on the winter!

farewell to summer

We're never quite sure where exactly the equinox falls. On the calendar we marked it down for today, but does that mean that tonight is the same length as today, or was it last night? In any case, we figured that yesterday was the last day of astronomical summer and we determined to celebrate it appropriately. Which, never mind that it was actually kind of chilly, meant taking the boats to the pond!

Harvey and Zion swimming with the canoe, Elijah lying on a rock on shore

waterfront action

We actually haven't gotten them out all that much the last couple months, so it was extra exciting to hit the water. The sun came and went as we paddled around looking for a good spot to set up camp, but by the time we found one, ate our lunch, and got ready to swim, it was solidly hidden by low gray clouds. So while the water was probably warmer than just about every time we've swum this summer, it was a bit of an effort to take the plunge. Of course we all did eventually, and after a while the clouds parted again for a time. Elijah had to take the most breaks to warm up, but there were rocks to jump on (and lie on when the sun was shining) and he and I even took a little mini hike up the hill above the pond. Harvey and Zion just swam and swam, and played with the boat and paddles.

With peaches from the farmers market on the way home it felt like a perfect way to see off the summer. Then at supper time we made a fire, and, though we were a little too busy playing and chatting with the friends who came over—and toasting marshmallows—to do any real reflection on the change of seasons, I think it did the job of marking the equinox the way it deserves to be marked. Now bring on the fall!

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on the hammock

We try and keep our house beautiful and comfortable within, and it often is, which is lovely. But sometimes it's too comfortable, and we miss opportunities to go outside. That's where the hammock comes in! The last few days Elijah and I have been enjoying it as a spot to share books; it's just lovely to be able to relax outside and enjoy peak flower season (especially if I can ignore peak weeds). Of course, the hammock isn't perfect: the dogs can't get in it, for one. Though maybe that's not an absolute negative, since this afternoon I'm not sure there would have been room for the two of them plus Elijah, me, and Zion. Also, as Lijah pointed out, hammocks lack cup-holders, which is definitely a drawback when you're just back from a summer bike ride. We had to make do with putting our giant glasses of ice water on the ground (where the dogs, just back themselves from a walk, were able to drink from them). And the worst thing is since I want the hammock to last, I try and take it in when it's going to be wet. With a 75% chance of rain for this evening I'm going to go do that in a moment. The trick then is to remember to put it back up when it's nice in the morning! Because I tend to forget about it as an option when it's away in the shed, and I don't want to miss a moment of beautiful summer hammocking!

lament

I'm having a hard time getting everything done these days—even imagining how I'm going to get everything done. The last two days I took many hours making a new door for our bike shed (really just the space under the front porch) after the old one crumbled away to nothing. Today I also took the boys to swim in a pool with friends. They liked it a lot—on the drive home Lijah said, "this was the best day of my life"—and I enjoyed sitting in the shade and talking to an adult person who hasn't already heard everything I have to say. But there's so much other work! Oh well, I guess that's summer.

Elijah floating in a pool on a donut thing

very summer

our day at the ocean

Summer is over—we celebrated the equinox last Tuesday evening with a fire and lights. We did a lot less swimming than we usually do, and visited fewer beaches, but at least we got one solid day of real beach fun in, back at the beginning of the month when we were on the Cape. We love Leah's parents house in Truro and the easy walk to the beach on the bay side, but we do crave adventure now and again, so on the last day of the trip we packed up the bikes and a picnic lunch and headed for the ocean waves. As a kid I loved going to Coast Guard Beach in Eastham, not because the beach itself is anything special—the whole stretch from Eastham to Provincetown is pretty much the same—but because you can get there on a delightful bike path over the dunes. Well worth a bit of a drive from Truro. And this year all three boys could ride it!

Well, almost ride it. Lijah did need to walk up some of the steeper hills; but he pushed on like a trooper, and I guess he thought it was worth it when we reached the end of the path (how is it riding to the ocean ends with a steep uphill?!) and heard the sound of the waves. We've been to the real ocean before, but somehow every year the boys' expectations are reset by the mild waves of Rockport harbor and Cape Cod Bay so they're able to be delighted anew by the real swells of the Atlantic Ocean as they crash into the Outer Cape.

Delighted, and unnerved too—at least at first. The camera can't really capture how big the waves looked that day when you were actually down there in the water, but suffice it to say that you needed to keep an eye on them at all times if you were anywhere near the waterline. Zion was the first one to venture in wholeheartedly.

Zion bracing to take a big wave

he's well-braced and ready

It was fun challenging ourselves to stand up to the breakers, but before long I needed to get in a little deeper. As steep as the shore is there you can get past the break only ten or fifteen feet out, and then you can float easily if thrillingly over the waves just as they rise. Harvey and Zion were a little unsure at first, but they joined me before too long. All that swimming practice this winter really paid off! Seeing the fun we were having, Lijah wanted to join in, so I held him where I could jump to keep our heads about the water.

Harvey and Zion floating in a wave

it's hard to tell, but that's a big wave!

Of course, the day wasn't totally without mishaps. We weren't just floating; some of the waves we tried to body-surf, and while it mostly went fine there were times we messed up and got tumbled. And some waves got us even when we weren't trying to ride them! Both me and Zion were bloodied—his was worse—and all of us had water and sand driven into our nose and ears. One wave in particular caused chaos, and not just for us. It was so big that I couldn't jump above it, but with Lijah in my arms I couldn't swim either. So I threw him over the worst of it, and mostly caught him when he came down... but I was also being tumbled head over heels along with everyone else. Then I couldn't rescue him right away because the violence of the wave had pulled my shorts down; that took a moment to fix.

I don't think anyone noticed though, since the whole beach had been pretty smashed: the wave overran lots of chairs and blankets and knocked over kids and old people. One little girl lost her glasses. Lots of people tried to help her find them, but they were gone for good. Her family stayed at the beach for a while, but I don't think she had any more fun. We had an easier time recovering—all of us except for Zion, at least. He held a grudge against the waves for the rest of the afternoon, especially when the drawing he was trying to make in the smooth sand kept getting washed out. Still, he let the other three of us play for a while more.

The problem with the beach is that when you're done having a great time you find yourself filled with sand and encrusted with salt, and changing into clothes and getting onto the bike again doesn't seem like the most fun. Especially since fifty percent of our towels had been soaked by waves. But we made it happen, and some of us even enjoyed the bike ride back. We all enjoyed the post-beach ice cream. That was a summer day.

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summer supper

Determined not to see the end of summer quite yet, we enjoyed the most summery of meals yesterday evening. Hamburgers (hot dogs for the little one who doesn't eat real food), corn, watermelon, and lots of tomatoes. The corn was not perfect—the first disappointing corn we've had from the farmers market—but the burgers, also locally sourced, more than made up for it. And of course the tomatoes only had to travel ten feet or so to get to our table on the deck. They were perfect! The grocery store watermelon was a watermelon.

Harvey chomping a big burger

chomp

For dessert we had smores, as I like to do when we have a fire going. The meat cooks so quickly and the fire is so lovely, it seems a shame not to do something with it! Especially when I haven't made anything else. This batch of smores was notable for Elijah's first unqualified success at making his own—and his second, too, because once he figured it out he went right in to making another one! His problem in the past has been with holding the marshmallow steady over the fire, where it needs to be; between heat, smoke, and boredom or distractedness he usually gives up before his marshmallow is much more than gently warmed. He doesn't actually mind raw marshmallows (ew) but they do tend to break the graham cracker when you try and squash them. There's been some shouting over that in the past, but no more! He's figured it out. It must be because he's a first grader now.

Elijah biting into his first perfect smore

bad picture, PERFECT smore

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climate control?

It is possible for our house to stay cool on hot summer days. Or coolish, at least: cooler than outside, enough to make the children disinclined to get off the couch when it's steamy outside. Without air conditioning, that seems like a win. Of course, if takes a little action on our part. We need to have the right windows open at night, with the fans going—that's easy enough. First thing when we get up we need to open the doors to bring in that lovely early-morning air, the coolest of the day. Then—and this is the hard part—we have to close up the house at the right time. The windows and door facing east are easy: as soon as the sun is above the trees we can feel the heat pouring in that side of the house, so the curtains there make an immediate perceptible difference. But often, even as the air outside gets warmer and warmer, it's hard to close the other windows because we don't want to lose the breeze. If we don't, often by 3:00 it's clear we've made the wrong choice.

That's what happened yesterday. We were tricked by the misty overcast, and distracted by the forecast afternoon thunderstorms, and we left everything open all day. It wasn't super hot, but it was humid, and before long the mist burned off and the sun started burning in... and the house sure heated up. Worse, while we heard some distant thunder the five minutes of light rain that fell didn't do much to change the outside temperature.

We'll try again today, and since the forecast calls for sun and heat we'll be more focused on the job. It only got down to about 70° overnight, so that's our starting point. We'll close up the house after 8:00, and see how we do!

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celebrating midsummer

Since Harvey's birthday took up the solstice proper, we've had to celebrate midsummer across some other days too. Thursday was beautifully summery. We took a family woods outing.

Harvey and Zion eating lunch by a stream

real summer lunch

With a goal of finding a place with water, not too many people, and a relaxed policy on off-leash dogs, we header to the Hapgood Wright Town Forest in Concord (or Fairlyland Pond forest, as we call it!). It was a good choice—because it meets all those criteria and because it was beautifully cool and shady on a hot day.

Harvey walking up a woods path, Elijah and the dogs a bit ahead

deep cool woods

Well, most of it was cool and shady. We also explored a section that had been cleared or burned, and was a little meadow and a lot of quickly recovering forest. Concord folks had adorned the trails there with Thoreau quotes about new-grown woods on pieces of stone stuck into the ground, and a charming granite monument to Dr Seuss's The Lorax.

Lijah sitting on a Lorax monument, the dogs looking up at him

remembering the Lorax

Fairyland Pond itself is easily accessible from the main trailhead, but we took the long way around so we would get to it and lunch time, and properly hot and tired. Many of us were happy to take to the water.

Harvey and Zion out in the pond with Blue, Scout watching from the shore

pond days

Not Scout, though! You'll notice there that he isn't sure about water yet, which lets Blue tease him unmercifully by running back and forth along the shore just deep enough to be out of reach. For his part, Blue went all the way underwater for the first time—and then the second, third, and a great many more. He was the most enthusiastic about the pond and stream by a little bit; Zion probably came in second.

Zion splashing more than waist deep in the pond

splash!

It was wonderfully summery. And then in the evening we topped off the day with a socially distant ice cream social with friends. For them it was a celebration of the last day of school; that doesn't apply to us, but summer by itself is plenty to celebrate!

Elijah licking a chocolate ice cream cone

yum.

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night soak

It got hot today, so of course after a day filled with hiking and cycling and running I decided to make jam. Because it would have been too easy to do it five days ago when it was practically below freezing in the mornings. Leah managed to take a shower before supper, but I didn't. And I still didn't before I finished the jam at quarter past nine. What a pain to have to shower that late, with everyone else in the house asleep. Then I remembered that we have a pool now! It's six by ten feet, inflatable, and cost us $25. We got it on Sunday and I'd never been in it. The boys filled it icy cold yesterday, but after a day of sun it was cool and comfortable when I went out into the dark yard to test it. So instead of showering, I lay back in a foot of water and looked at the stars as I felt all the heat drift out of my body. I highly recommend it. I only wish we didn't live cheek-by-jowl with our neighbors here in the suburbs; I was a little embarrassed to think that someone might notice my nocturnal soak. Never mind. It was worth it.