Full and bright with summer, the past month tipped the scales and emptied the blog. We enjoyed visits from three batches of guests, one for only an evening and morning but the others for 3-4 days. We attended two weddings-- one in Ithaca and a fly-by-night wedding in Buffalo, after which we drove home, the girls asleep and John nearly so. He poured music in his ears and wind on his face, while I poured candy in his fist to keep him awake until we pulled into our gritty, gravelly drive at three in the morning. We gardened and laundered and hung out to dry; we watched movies on a sheet, ate popcorn four ways, and awoke too early. We went to the county fair--twice!--without the bearded beloved, and we ate an elephant's ear. We played, laughed, jumped, grumped, and ate requested chicken noodle soup for supper on a ninety-degree night. Now you know.
During the blinding days, steam rising, the girls play in the rubber pool that sloshes with inches of tepid water, murky with much use, and they cover the kitchen floor with green, grassy tracks. I sweep an acre of green blades off the floor before walking out to the same an hour later. On rainy days, they run through the house with siren shrieks and slip outdoors if I turn my back. When I give consent, they raise hands to the rain and come in dripping. Even in gray, they glow luminous. Shining constantly with rain or pool water, their slippery bodies spin about so quickly I grow tired simply looking at the great energy they spend in one hour of play.
When the heat makes me sticky with adult sweat and my temper is short, I forget the goodness of childhood in summer. I forget to live as my children do. Two weeks ago, the girls and I drove to Nanticoke, and I stepped back in time and saw summer as my ten-year old self (a good age, as all ages are). After slaving in the garden, we would race to the crick and try to swim and tube in two feet of water. We'd spread ourselves out on rock slabs to dry, slick limbs stretched long and dappled in leaflight. We either found our fun or we moped and grumbled about boredom to an unsympathetic mother who advised we remedy it by weeding more rows. By day, we hunted for peepers and salamanders, and lightning bugs lit our rooms from Mason jar jails by night. We read books, climbed trees, played in the Indian graveyard, and explored. Summer at ten is good and simple. It can be so now, but it doesn't come as naturally, which is one reason I am glad for our children because they make it easier to be so. Unknowingly, they shed some of their sparks and newness right onto us. Of course, the same sin that roosts in me lives in them, but, somehow, through revealing the smallness of my heart, they also help to enlarge it. On the dark ride home from Nanticoke, I explained the meanings of "murky" and "emerging" to two girls who drowsily watched the moon, a thumbsmear of tawny paint behind the clouds, and through their eyes I saw a following moon who politely escorted us home.
Our garden grows. Millie is especially thrilled with the myriad colors-- the reds, oranges, yellows, and greens. She keeps a constant watch and lets me know when the tomatoes are "tomato-ing," how much her baby pam pumpkin has grown overnight, and asks, "Isn't it amazing, Mama? The corn is taller than you!" The squeak of health between our teeth is a pleasure to which we're all growing accustomed. We ward against the forgetting-- the ungratefulness of forgetting just what a wonder is a garden full of food. God sends forth the rain and sun alike, He sends forth the little root shoots and curling tendrils, He gives us swelling gourds and kernals and globes, and if we're not careful, we'll forget the marvel of it. "Summertime," says my father, "is the only time of the year when we eat as we were intended to." I think he's right. Carelessly, we saunter a hundred feet or so and fill our shirts, our bowls, our aprons with cucumbers, squash, lettuce, beans, and all else. We eat them at lunch, at supper, and at all times in between. We roast them, fry them, boil them, bake them, and eat them raw, and in all ways (except for frying, perhaps), we eat as we were meant to eat.
I come in from time spent bent in the garden with hands that surprise me. I raise my palm to the cupboard for a glass, and the scent of tomato leaf wafts by. Brushing past the tomato plants, my body takes on their scent-- a living scent, the smell of life. I dream of the garden some nights, and if I awake one morning in a bed covered with vines, I may not even blink. In summertime, all things grow.
I try not to forget, though I often fail, the beauty of this season and every season, the blessing of my healthy, happy children, the gift of serving my husband and girls with fresh food on clean dishes that have been washed and washed and rewashed. I will come back in January to read this post, to be reminded, and to be, as I should always be, grateful again.
So, no, we haven't joined the circus, more's the pity. Truly.
Sarah, I loved the attention you gave me in the comments section, and congratulations to you and Pete! We rejoice!
This swarm of snapshots should last you all for the next month or so, but don't feel guilted by their great number into leaving a comment saying, "I can't comment on all these, but, really, they're great!" Unless you want to, that is...I'll take any comments I can get. Honestly, I think I'll be impressed if any of you even look at them all.
I need to amend my recent habit of a posting dearth followed by a glut. It can't be healthy for either the poster (that's me) or the readers (that's you, if you're still here). Here's to never quite striking a happy medium.
So take your time; there's enough to go around. In the rare event that you need more, go to buildabelly. I've posted an ovenful of recipes, with more to come, so nibble away.
Those two weddings I mentioned? Well, the first was a beautiful wedding in Buffalo, and we rejoiced to witness our friends Ben and Amy bind their lives together. We saw lots of college friends and enjoyed good company, and I took about a dozen pictures, none of which included a picture of the married two. Yep, none. As a peace offering, I present a blank-faced couple. Amy asked that I provide a coloring page for guests to color in during the reception. So, print this off and color in Ben and Amy's features (or, if they're strangers to you, what you imagine their features to be). Good luck!
Here are those snapshots I did take. The wedding was utterly lovely down to the smallest details, but I only got pictures of the lanterns and pummeling of the pinata. Forgive me.
Holly and Dora! It's been a while since I saw either one of these beauties.
Annika and Unkel Wirrel (even at weddings, they harrass him):
Okay, I couldn't stop staring at these two curly-topped, little boys. They are Amy's nephews, and, yes, I did try to discuss the bride price.
Heidi and Millie:
The Candy Dam burst! Please note my two girls front and center. If candy grew in the forest, they would be the world's most renowned foragers. We ate candy all the way home and into the following week.
Annika and nephew #2 were playing together. The picture looks falsely idyllic; I warned them not to swing the rackets at each other like broadswords, but five minutes later, Annie came running with a bloody, swollen lip. That girl...
We'd planned to drive around our old haunts in Depew after the wedding, but we didn't end up leaving on our long drive home until almost ten o'clock. So, here are two old haunts, which I viewed with a heavy heart.
Sigh number one: our old upper apartment in Depew is completely empty and up for sale.
Sigh number two: Frank's Place is boarded up and barren.
The other wedding we attended was that of some friends from church. About a week before the wedding, I was asked to take some pictures during the wedding as they had no photographer. Er. I filled the entire memory card. Here's the blog that contains some of that snapshotting. For those who don't feel like clicking the link to see dozens, here's a single dozen for you.
Fall and autumn sunsets seem to quicken my heart more than summertime ones do, perhaps because the stark landscape showcases the color more vividly. A recent summertime sunset drew us outdoors without a thought, though, even here in town. The sky was a strange blend of colors. To the east, bronze and green melted into a magnificent double rainbow that was later lost in a rosy haze; to the west, gold turned to flames and then embers before full darkness came.
I didn't edit any of these pictures. Snapshots could never do it justice, anyway.
After the rain slowed, the sky glowed gray. It was beautiful, and Millie, in her play apron, ran toward me shouting, "We're going to collect the gold, Mama; we're going to collect the gold!"
She was running for this.
As she ran, this sky behind her
was bound by this. It was an immense double rainbow, but only one shows here.
Just a few minutes later, the sky changed again, with Becky and the twins underneath and Tommy's head sprouting rainbow.
A minute more, and I saw grays and pinks and a glowing Candida.
Here's the other end of it.
And then I turned around to take a picture of this pine tree in between houses.
And this sky aflame.