It’s been a long hot summer. The work week goes by in a blur – 10 hours commuting/working then home for a simple dinner (pasta salad, burgers or pizza on the grill, barbecued chicken and potato salad, roasted sweet corn with everything) with a glass of wine or beer. Or a tall glass of water. It’s so hot you don’t want to do anything at all; I usually stretch out on the couch with a book (which I’ve been devouring at an alarming rate). Sometimes we have a walk out to the lake. I tend the herbs – several thymes and basils, parsley, oregano, rosemary, lemon verbena, and the bay tree. The red kalanchoe’s splash of color thrives even when I forget to water it. There is a giant ball jar of sun tea constantly working in the window. The little red fan blows earnestly from the windowsill, crowded out by plant pots. The breeze, when we can catch it, feels wonderful. Sometimes in the evenings, I’ll light up the votives that are nestled in milk glass across the apartment and our conversation will linger over the dinner table as we bask in their warm glow. The sky turns to an inky black and we listen to the night sounds of the city.
The weekends are a delightful rush to enjoy all of our free time. We’re up by seven on Saturdays to run up the farmer’s market – an ordeal due to construction on the train tracks north of us, but we wouldn’t skip it for the world. The smell of day lilies and yarrow, watermelon and tomatoes perfume the air. We smile and chat with our favorite vendors, gushing over the dinners planned and the surprises we find (like the late-season morels from a forest fire burn up in Michigan or the first peaches that were so ripe we nestled them like eggs all the way home). We delight in the novel – like the polite, eager eight year old boy who “rang me up” two weeks ago, running the table like an old pro. The folk musicians are a nice soundtrack to the market – so far this summer we’ve had a quartet singing Appalachian folk songs, an accordionist, and a harpist. Sometimes there will be a cooking demonstration, and there are always free samples – the guaranteed marketing trick that most of the vendors employ. It’s fun to notice how the stands and the farmers evolve each season – especially the shy first-timers who are still learning the ropes. And it seems like everyone has raised the bar this season – more signage, more color, more shade, better organization, well-marked prices and provenances and tons of helpers eager to bag you up.
After the market, I’ll preserve if I’ve bought anything in abundance – strawberry and blueberry jam so far this year, and we’ll have a fresh lunch of whatever looks the best of what we’ve hauled home. We always grill out on the weekends. Everything tastes better over a wood fire, and it’s nice to sit outside and enjoy the weather, even if we are downstairs in the parking lot. More laziness – books, hobbies (I’m working on a red-work sampler currently). Maybe we’ll head out and see what we can find at the thrift stores, or the used book places. Sundays we always have a nice spread for brunch, allowing ourselves to sleep in until eight or even almost nine. There will be pancakes with fresh blueberries or strawberries or maple syrup, blackberries or red raspberries for nibbling, and center-cut bacon with scrambled eggs, sometimes with some fresh green onion mixed in. If I’m feeling particularly insane and it’s cool enough to heat up the kitchen, maybe some muffins will make an appearance as well. I usually have tea and my husband tends to forgo hot coffee for plain old water in the summertime. We take an hour to eat. Then we’ll listen to a little PBS in the background (I like the cooking shows and Rick Steves) as we plan our projects for the afternoon – there is always laundry, and usually a “big” project like organizing the bookshelves or the office area, or sorting through the massive piles of magazines and catalogs I let accumulate every few months.
I’m getting to the point where I’m looking forward to autumn. The early mornings and evenings are ever so slightly cooler, though not yet crisp. Fall is my favorite season, so I know I’m jumping the gun a little bit. But I can’t wait for sweaters and the swish of walking through a kaleidoscope of falling leaves, and pumpkins and gourds piled up everywhere you look. And the fall foods – I realized this week when I passed up cherry tomatoes at the market that my tastes were starting to change. I want crock-pot stews and roasted meats. Hearty beer and deep burgundy wines. Crunchy apples and pumpkin bread.
I also can’t wait to sleep under the stars and cook over a campfire. In a few weeks we’re spending three days camping at Wyalusing State Park in Wisconsin for our anniversary, then capping our trip with two days in Mt. Horeb. Outdoor living and small town life for five days – the perfect trip to close the summer with.
A lazy summer moving into autumn… it’s been a good year so far.