Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Suddenly Summer

What is it, about summer, that you sit there all winter, waiting and waiting and waiting for it to end and finally the snow melts and it rains for a couple of months and then one day it's all sunny and the grass is three feet high and the bees are buzzing in the second- or third-round of wildflowers and you're all of a sudden like, "Wait!  How did it get here so fast?" And then you grab on, like digging your fingers into the mane of a giant, flying lion, and hold on for all you're worth, trying to soak in a ray of sun, catch a whiff of flower scent, dig your toes into hot sand before it's all over and you start the waiting again.  Or is that just me?

Summer here has come on rather suddenly.  The lilacs have already come and gone.

I planted six lilac bushes when we moved in, nine or so years ago, and only one of them is finally starting to flower.  But, not to sound ungrateful or anything, it's a white lilac, so not nearly as fragrant as the traditional, er, lilac-colored ones.  I know of a secret lilac bush, though, growing in the woods across the road, near an old cellar hole that I may one day explore, and was able to collect one single bunch before they passed by.  It's truly my first (among many) heartbreak of the season.

Even before the lilacs went, the violets did.  For weeks there were millions dotting the neighbor's field, then all of sudden, just when I had a spare moment to pick them, they were nearly gone.  I had the Friday before Memorial weekend off, and spent most of the day drawing birds (yeah, I'm wild and crazy like that, and yeah I'll tell you more about it later this week), revising poetry, and playing Amazing Stay-At-Home Mom, with two loaves of banana bread waiting hot out of the oven when the boys and two of their friends got off the bus.  In between all that, I managed to collect a smattering of wilted violets to make a very scaled-back recipe of violet jelly.

It tastes just about like you'd imagine a little lemon juice, a lot of sugar and some grainy pectin (because the recipe called for liquid pectin, but instead I tried to substitute granular) would taste like.  That is to say, quite tasty, and look at the pretty color.

In the meantime, I keep getting distracted by these:

(This one is, I believe, a lancet clubtail...note that my mildewey window frames are not distracting me all that much).  Whenever I step outside, I find my attention drawn by a dragonfly and I have to follow it around, sometimes with binoculars and sometimes (as with the specimen above) I am able to catch them in my bare hands (though not very often).  I have a net coming soon, and then all will be lost, because I'll be chasing dragonflies and damselflies all over, trying to get them to tell me their names (which is not easy).  I noticed when I was shopping for my net, that many (most?) people catch dragonflies in order to kill and mount them in a collection.  This had never occurred to me--I do not need more stuff to gather dust, and I do not understand the need to posses whatever we admire (though perhaps my desire to identify them is another form of the same need to posses).  Anyway, I'm obsessed.  I even dragged my family on a walk to the river on Saturday, which I almost never do between May and August because the bugs are too ferocious, in order to hunt down more of them.

Speaking of rivers, we've already gone on our fist open-water swim (not counting Z's dip into the ocean at Hermit Island).  On Memorial Day, we spent some time floating down the Sheepscot near a friend's house, then trekking back up through the woods to do it all over.  The kids were terrified at first of the current, then they couldn't get enough (despite the bugs that were intent on devouring us).

C spent most of Memorial Weekend mowing the lawn.  It was the first time anyone had mowed around here, because the ground was all covered with snow, then it rained for like a month, and then, all of a sudden, the grass was knee-high.  He had to scythe it first, then borrow his dad's power mower (we just have the reel kind).  He mowed areas that have never been mowed, or get cut once a year at best (because we have five acres, some woods, some open, we have no defined "yard" and the mowing is left to creativity).  Even though I'm, on principle, anti-lawn, I just walked all around it, barefoot, after it was done, marveling and tempted to take pictures (I resisted temptation, and alas there are no lawn pictures to share, and, alas alas, the lawn continues to grow and needs mowing again and now I remember why I hate lawn).

Finally, in a true prelude to summer, we attended our first fair, my favorite fair of all, the Fiber Frolic this past weekend.  We watched border collies round up sheep (and goats), petted bunnies, looked at all kinds of gorgeous yarn, said "hello" to llamas, made felt balls and ate yummy food.

I bought a weaving kit for the boys, because it's something I've been wanting to do with them, and I just haven't pulled off the "meat tray" version...maybe the actual peg loom will get me more inspired.  And I bought a drop-spindle kit for me, because goodness knows, I don't have enough hobbies that I don't have time for.

I hope your summer is off to a roaring start, and that you hang onto that lion's mane!

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