Sunday, July 23, 2017

So This is Summer . . .

 This is the strangest summer.  Every day— is it every day?  I think so.  It rains.  Today will be no different. We have been waiting on our gardens.  The delay in the growing season has taken some adjustments.  The weeding has been difficult.  The ground has been quite soggy and the quack grass is something to content with.  Since childhood, I have been gifted with the ability to concentrate on a repetitive task for a very long time.  In truth, I think I work both consciously and unconsciously, while doing such work.  It’s a good time to write (and edit) in my head before actually sitting down to write.
So this is what has been happening, day to day, a lot of farm work.  I have put by many jars of jam, which is what I have harvested thus far.  On the dining room table in straight lines sit the (4 oz-16 oz) jars of  It’s My Jam!  Strawberry, Red Raspberry, and Blackberry.  Shades of red!  I love looking at the jars. The rain-kissed fruit has been sweet and perfect. My recipes are organic, using raw sugar instead of refined, which is gives the jam a hint of molasses. 
I think the berry picking has become a metaphor for my life.   I usually average 2-3 quarts every two days.  Red raspberries produce until mid-august.  The thorns on the bramble in our berry patch are really out to get me every time I enter the berry domain.  The blackberry canes are worse.  All I can think of is wolf teeth.  The scratches on my arms and my ankles illustrate the degree of battle. It doesn’t help that  there are legions of flying insects (black flies, deer flies, mosquitoes) that  see  me as fair game. Everyone knows you can’t slap a biting bug while holding a quart of red raspberries because you will miss the bug and spill all of those gorgeous red juicy thimbles— everywhere.  I truly have learned to practice “Zen” (mind over matter) in our berry patch.   So far, so good.   However, the metaphor has been  an eye opener for me.  I think I am learning to go forward without yielding to what could potentially harm me. I am learning ‘to walk through’ the bramble nearly untouched, and what does touch me I can live with.
Yesterday, Peter and I traveled West to find apricots, which apparently aren’t ready yet.  However, peaches and cherries are presenting at the farm markets.  We didn’t buy any yet, but I think I will today.  I really want to make some apricot jam.  Last couple of years the Apricot trees have been challenged by  weather.  I am hoping  I will find some, somewhere.  Peter was lucky tho’ and purchased another new-to-him lawnmower in Elba, NY.  It was just what he wanted.  We ate lunch at the Elba Diner, which was wonderful. Really Good Diner Food.   On the chalkboard there were, at least, 15 kinds of pies, from Butterscotch to Coconut Cream (homemade). Too full to order a slice (so disappointed!). Next time we are in Elba, I’m going to start with dessert.  I recommend this spot, if anyone is out for a country drive and wants a bite to eat.  It’s a calm atmosphere.  Neighbors meet and greet there.  You get a sense of the Elba community.   Once we left Elba, we headed towards Medina NY, which has an interesting historic  canal town (perfect movie location) and on the outskirts (rolling hills! Who knew there were rolling hills here!) more great farm landscape.  It felt like we stepped back 100 years.
This morning, I made more half-pint jars of ‘Blazzberry’ Jam. This is a combo of red raspberries and blackberries and lemon.  Its name invented by my littlest grandson, George Emmett, last year. So, so good.
Soon, I will be venturing out to the gardens to do some weeding.  It’s hard to believe that next week will be the last week of July.  In five weeks, the Fall semester will begin. Summer is on wing . . .
I have been writing every day.  Some of it is good, and some not so good (needs revision).  Last week, I taught my first summer class, My Name in Print, in SummerWrite at Writers & Books.   It was such a joy working with these 8-11-year-olds.  I think I had a majority of 9-year-olds, or children who will be going into 4th grade. They were thoughtful and completely invested in their writing.  All of them immersed in the making of art (both writing and drawing).  Their anthology was one of the best I have had the pleasure to type up!

O life, you can be good and gentle, can't you?

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