My father would watch for changes in the way the light slanted across our dining room during my childhood breakfasts. You know the season has changed when the girls get on the bus in the dark. The coffee is done, dishes washed, email has been checked, and still the light is on over the kitchen table.

This morning in the kitchen the girls ate and talked while I made almond butter sandwiches for later. I suggested the potatoes which I had boiled up yesterday and left waiting in the fridge which led Billy to play a Little Jimmy Dickens song for them, Take a Cold Tater and Wait. He made them bacon and fried up the potatoes instead. Then it was late (6:50am) so they ran to get their teeth brushed and stopped short because the bus was already coming down the road.

after all that when it was light enough to see, the view from the sink

good enough

The weather this weekend was perfect for getting in more hay. After it was all cut on Sunday, our round baler broke in a way that was not easily repaired. Parts will have to be ordered which takes time, and rain is in the forecast for Wednesday. Luckily, Billy was able to borrow our neighbor’s round baler for the afternoon. They are the worst bales he ever made, so loose and floppy and the strings never tied, but we don’t care too much because at least they are done.

picking apples

Our neighbor invited us over to pick apples from his trees which we did as soon as it stopped raining, taking eggs to offer in exchange. First stop was in the barn to see the cats (there are many)  while Billy and Paul talked for a minute about the quality of hay that has been rained on repeatedly. Luckily, it isn’t our hay this time. The ground was so soft from the rain, any apples that dropped sunk into the sod. We sent the girls up and caught the ones they threw down which filled three bags and makes me feel a little less guilty about keeping the stove going this time of year. Apple sauce is bubbling as I write.

mid August

I noticed as soon as we step out of the car, back from vacation but I hated to mention it. Yes, those are red maple leaves that have begun to fall. And I wanted a wool sweater under my raincoat when I went out for a walk today. Tomatoes are plentiful; at least it is the right weather for canning.

Quiet day here with one girl away on a summer field trip. Got my work done in plenty of time for a walk, which turned into gardening, which turned into boiling a potato for supper.

I think tonight will be a good night for some gesso.

picking favorites

Little kids are always asking what my favorite this and that are and I always answer with a long list. I have a really hard time choosing. Today I decided I’m ready to commit to the blackberry.  It is my favorite fruit. I am putting it above the fig, strawberry, Cortland apple, apricot, and plum.


right now

I was sitting in the kitchen with sweat slowly trickling down my back and thought how ironic it was that while working in the garden I mostly think of winter. As I pick beans, I think,  four people, twenty beans apiece, 250 -500 meals to get us through the cold months. One box should be ten meals. Another nine boxes in the freezer would be nice. Two minutes to steam. Then the cold bath with the ice cubes (lucky beans). They will be good with  potatoes a few months from now.

Billy called me to come outside and I hesitated. I was just about to start working on this blog post and write about how the ideal of living in the moment may be a myth. But he said, “write it later when it is cooler, there is a breeze right now.”

Quite a strong breeze stirred up. We mostly stayed dry even with two girls and a sprinkler in our midst.

Under the trees I read a very nice letter from Billy’s sister. It included the wedding announcement of Frida Berrigan. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that after all these years she hasn’t strayed far from the girl I knew in Baltimore and I had to laugh because she still reminds me of my sister. I don’t usually read the wedding section of the NYTimes’s  so I have nothing to compare. Are they always so lovely? How often is a bride quoted saying about her love, “This is the person I want to struggle with”? Because we all  do struggle in our search for truth. Reading about the $10 suit the groom wore was a breath of fresh air.

Mostly today I am thinking of my dear friend Beth who is having her birthday in Afghanistan. I miss her. There is no getting around that. She knows as well as anyone what it means to plan for the next season.

the cotton is high

This is what I would consider a true summer day. If I closed my eyes I was back in my childhood. The summer makes me miss my grandmother for some reason. It was hot, although I’ve felt hotter, and humid. I had my hair pulled up to keep it off my sticky neck.  I told Billy that loving this heat must mean I’m a bit more homesick than I realized and his response was, “Have you lost your mind?” We didn’t have to stack hay in the barn today but the memory is still fresh. Last night there was a heavy storm. The fields were still too wet to work so we had the luxury of working  in the shade. On this hill there is always a little air moving and we have maples in the yard.  Tonight after dinner I took a cool shower (heaven) and ate raspberries for dessert while the girls chased each other around the yard with the hose. Tomorrow is supposed to be hotter and it is back to baling.


When school gets out for the summer we head over to Knapp’s Farm in Preble to pick their organic strawberries. I think it was last year that my friend Beth and I stopped by to pick berries and found that they were closed for the season.  Very disappointing.  This spring I decided to plant our own  patch but it takes a year to harvest so I was pretty happy to see the Knapp’s sign out on the road again this week. A very nice girl warned us upon arrival that the rain last week was hard on the berries and that we would have to look pretty carefully, and that did turn out to be true. We ran out of time before we could fill our last container but maybe it was just as well. The two green boxes were nearly eight dollars. We will have  to savor the few we have this year. For anyone who is interested, there were lots of nearly ripe berries, so picking will be great by the weekend. Don’t forget to take containers.

Late Bloomer

So many reasons not to do this and yet  here I am. Life is strangely wonderful and painful, but you know that already, I’m sure.

For a year we have waited for this moment and  for a split second I think they may be too pretty to eat.