Tuesday, July 2, 2013

midsummer's crowning glory

we've been having a bit of a heatwave here in Seattle; we set a new record high for July 1 yesterday, somewhere around 90. It's *never* this hot here before August, or maybe September. Wow.

I love it. I can't sleep, but for a few days, I don't mind going without sleep, being tired, even having a bit of heatstroke. I drink iced coffee and ice water and iced juice and make sorbet and we grill dinner or eat slices of chorizo and bread with cold rose after the sun goes down. Since temps over 80 are so rare here, it's still fun. It reminds me of my mother's careful ritual of cooling the house every summer morning: my parents would be up at 4 or 5 am, and my father would begin watering the lawn (a country kid, I grew up on a 1-acre suburban lot with tons of fruit trees and bushes - and a 40-ft deep well that we used to keep it verdant without having to pay the city for water). My mother would throw open all the doors and windows and would use floor fans to rush out any remaining warm stale air from the previous day.

I would get up closer to six, by which time my mother would have dropped the heavy wood-and-textile blinds to block out the heat of the day from the eastern side of the house. The house would be cool and fresh and smell like dew.  We chased the sun at our house in this way,, shutting the west side up before noon, and opening the east side up to the shade of birch trees which sheltered our home (until a silver thaw in February, 1995 snapped them like brittle twigs).

Here, Cass and I only have one fan. But I still find myself waking around 5:30 or 6 in the morning. I jump up and start the watering, like Dad, and shut up the east side of the house before the first rays heat the kitchen, like Mom. Cass sleeps and I open the door off our bedroom and blow cool air in over him, to keep him comfortable for another hour or two until he wakes. By noon, I can open up the east side of the house again, and I close the door to the utility room to shut out the heat reflecting off the deck.

Same ritual, different house. I like it. It reminds me of home, of all the bounty and goodness encapsulated in the words "childhood" and "summer."

Not much to show you today, just a few snippets from my midsummer garden (and tomorrow, a fancy new child's dress, that I've nearly finished!). It's come a long way since March, hasn't it? My midsummer crown has been hung to dry and decorate the living room for the next year. I like the autumn hues; they'll make me smile as summer ebbs and the leaves start to turn.

Above, left to right, top to bottom: I planted Shirley poppies all over this year - and Hungarian blue and Lauren's grape poppies, too. Poppies everywhere. So pretty. The peas are over 9 feet tall and have outgrown their trellis. Time for pea-shoot pesto. ANd peas. Lots of peas. And then they need to come down! A caterpillar ate out the center of our first artichoke and made it yucky inside. I'll have to figure out how to keep the buggers out of the rest of 'em; still, we were excited that the plant is producing already, in its first year. We thinned the garden over the weekend, picking a basket of mache, frisee, endive, and various red leaf lettuces that I grew from seed started in February and March (I also pulled up a good bunch of young carrots, to give the others space to grow). The blackcap raspberries are starting to ripen. And finally, a bowl of beautiful ruby-jewels, strawberries from our patch. These smelled like heaven as the pile grew in my hands this morning.

No comments: