Somewhere in July

Summer mugginess has settled in. Besides pleasing the garden, this offers the kids a chance to complain a little more — as if anyone needs that opportunity.

Again, this is a summer of swimming — of plenty more, too, work (which I’m immensely grateful for), this constant growing up thing my youngest insists on, and the world we live in that appears to be turning itself inside out. I lay awake reading at night and listening to the frogs or the hunting foxes, sometimes the neighbors having a party, and think, What about a little tranquility? But this does not appear to be the time for tranquility, much as I look for it in tiny places — those few minutes of swimming, the raspberry and rhubarb crisp, the sheer pleasure on my daughter’s face when she sees a friend.

These steamy days remind me of New Hampshire summers, when the days spread out so long…. May they yet spread out. Black raspberries, sun gold cherry tomatoes, jalapeños, basil…. May summer creep along.

If you lie quietly in bed in the very early morning, in the half-light before time begins, and listen carefully, the language of crows is easy to understand. “Here I am.”

— Louis Jenkins

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Photo by Gabriela S.

 

Yes, Summer

My 13-year-old wraps an ice pack in a kitchen towel and gently rubs it along her cat’s hot paws. The furry creature nuzzles his head against the cold pack. Hot, hot, the cats lie on the wood floor, panting.

Viridescence begins this July, these very long days slick with humidity, turbulent with thunderstorms, the domestic garden and wild woods pulsing, rampaging green — growing headlong, magnificently wild.

This slice of summer is the season of cousins, of sprawling sunsets and lingering dusk, s’mores, and the overarching goal for today: swimming.

In a New Hampshire river, my daughter stands at the edge of a waterfall — the rocks around us radiating heat, the water so cold the small bones in our feet ache. She disappears behind the waterfall, wholly hidden by the frothing water, then emerges blinking and drenched, her smile luminescent.

The short summer night.
The dream and real
Are same things.

— Takahama Kyoshi

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Summer in All Her Radiant Glow

Whatever is your life fills up with – be it classes, farming, the bond market, heroin – tends to become the idols you worship. At one point in my life, my attention was often occupied by Sleepy Bunny, a small once-white and once-fuzzy stuffed animal my daughter dearly loved. We didn’t go anywhere without ‘the bunny.’ That bunny remains with us, although my days of preoccupation with stuffed toys and diapers and perpetual snacks have altered considerably.

Raising children often seems to me stepping from one rock to another, and I have to remind myself that the journey itself is the point, stupid, and not some distant end. Watering in the hoop house this late evening, I snipped a handful of basil flowers, pressing the spicy, sweet blossoms to my face, and brought this fragrance into my kitchen. The crickets are chirping now, this final day of July, and the mud is cooling beneath my feet.

OTHERWISE

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love…

But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

– Jane Kenyon

Elmore, Vermont.  Evening and girls.
Elmore, Vermont.
Evening and girls.