Saturday, August 28, 2021

Last Days of August: Looking Back on Summer

Ontario Series, #1, July, 2021

M.J. Iuppa

Over the summer, I made nature collages: stones, shells, sea glass found on the Lake Ontario beaches.  I created scenes, which I hope inspires tranquility. The gift of summer, of being barefoot and walking on the sandy beach,close to the lip of the lake.  I have made four of these so far. Framed them in 4x6 black frames. They are small windows.  Two have been taken to new homes. I was thrilled that they were desired. It made me happy. New skill: I learned how to use a glue gun without removing my fingerprints.

As soon as the Spring semester ended in May, our planting season began.  My husband had great luck starting our plants from seeds in our greenhouse.  He even started flowers: Moon flowers, Lupines, Zinnias, Sunflowers, Marigolds-- all with great success.  Our flower gardens have many colors and have been fun to watch them grow and multiple.

We successfully planted three gardens: North, East and South, which total 5000 square feet. This is a lot to maintain.  Now we're harvesting our efforts.  Canning tomatoes, from sauce to puree, to whole in tomato juice. A steamy process.

It's been warm here.  The heat is always expected in August, but this summer was truly pleasant, with many mild days and a decent amount of rain and sun. Perfect for gardens and orchards.  So far, we have stayed ahead of our harvesting.  I think I planted more than 200 tomato plants, cherry to plum to a variety of slicers. Thus far, nothing disappoints.

Besides gardening, I gave myself a writing challenge. To write  every morning, which I did faithfully at the start of summer, and was successful in completing poems, 100 word stories, lyric essays. As the summer progressed, I had to divide my attention.  Big garden commitment.  Of course, the gardens need the care of small children.  I mean things can get out of control pretty fast.  So I fussed over everything every day. You guessed it, in the morning, before the sun got too hot.  A chunk of writing time spent in the garden.  But not lost time, I think I was writing in the garden.  Loose thoughts coming together in my head.  Lines repeating as I weeded.  It was good work.  I am grateful for this life on the farm.  How it restores me. 

A lot of change:  I made the decision to retire from St. John Fisher College after 24.5 years.  It's startling to  realize that I have been teaching there, January 1997 to August, 2021. So many classes and bright students, and papers and tests, and creative writing and visual art, and performances and readings, and laughter and discoveries and collaborations.  I will miss that the most. I am grateful to my many wonderful colleagues (faculty and staff).  I received a lot of support in my efforts to bring quality Art programs to St. John Fisher College. I am grateful for my work experience there.

Now I will continue teaching at The College at Brockport this semester and the next. Closer to home, with three classes to teach. No night classes.  I am looking forward to the start of this semester on 8/30/21.  I taught remote courses all last year.  It's going to be wonderful being face to face in the classroom again. Hopefully, all of us will remain healthy as we navigate through the semester.  It can be done as long as we're aware of what we need to do to stay safe.

Lastly, I wanted to create several manuscripts this summer, and I was successful. I have a micro-chapbook of prose (lyric essays and a prose poem) called In a Silent Way; a chapbook of  twenty-four 100 word stories called Rock. Paper. Scissors.; and my fifth full-length poetry collection called The Weight of Air. I have submitted these manuscripts to chapbook competitions and presses. 

On 8/6/2021, I submitted The Weight of Air to Kelsay Books for possible publication.  It was accepted on 8/19/2021, with publication scheduled for May, 2022.  I am thrilled by this good news. 

Soon, the air will change, and shadows will grow longer, and autumn with be upon us. Another change of season.