Monday, July 18, 2011

Glorious summer

The glory of summer, announced by the cacophony of the cicadas, is marked in earnest by the arrival of peach season. This year, the season was delayed at least one week because of an inordinately cool and wet spring but farmers are hoping that this means the season for all late-summer fruits and vegetables will be extended well into September. Here's to hoping!

At our favorite nearby orchard, peach season began on July 15 so my husband and I hopped on the motorcycle and rode over to load up on the first apples of the season, called Lodi apples, and on the first peaches, Early Red Haven.

There is something downright poetical about getting a peach so ripe and fresh that it still has the leaves of the tree attached to it. Since I was a child, I have loved peaches when we could find them in the supermarket in Puerto Rico. But I had no idea that the sad, mangled fruits you get there have little in common with the glorious peaches you get when you live only a few miles away from the orchard. (Of course, because we live here and not there we can't enjoy the wonderful quenepas of late summer there so there's always a trade off.)

The upcoming harvest of apples, which will be a bittersweet sign that we'll be moving into fall, also looks quite promising.

Also in preparation for fall and winter, farmers are already collecting the hay to form it into the bales that will feed livestock when there is nothing else on the ground from them to munch on. These bales are the ones kept outdoors in comparison to the square ones that are usually kept inside barns.

Luckily for us, as we were riding down a country road, we came upon a farmer baling the hay into square bales that will be kept in the barn. While my little digital camera could not take the picture fast enough to catch the bale in the air you can still see the the most recently made bale falling on top of the others in the wagon behind the tractor.

Another promise of the glory of summer is the early corn that is now ready to be picked after a much-delayed growing season. I look forward to buying some fresh corn ears at the market this Saturday and then making corn bisque or a corn mush (I can't eat the actual corn kernels) so we can enjoy another wonderful perk of living in farm country during harvest season.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sights unseen

For years now, we've been driving by this dilapidated old schoolhouse, which must have been built in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, and I've always wanted to stop and take a picture. But that wish didn't come through until yesterday, when my husband and I set off on the motorcycle for a late afternoon photographic excursion.

I would have wanted to walk inside but there was no cleared path available and my husband most strenuously insisted that this would be a bad idea. "What if the thing collapses while you're inside?" It's stood for a long time, I reasoned, so that would be unlikely. An intense dislike of ticks dissuaded me more persuasively that it would be unwise to brave the very tall grass to get a peek inside.

There is something so sad about remnants of the past that are allowed to collapse on themselves. If it was, indeed, a one-room schoolhouse, as the tiny bell tower at the top suggests, according to my husband, wouldn't the people who were taught there want to preserve it? Wouldn't the county want to make a small museum out of it? There is an old schoolhouse replica at the fair grounds every year so why not maintain the real thing? And, if unwanted, why not tear it down rather than allow it to decay, unused and uncared for, in front of everyone's eyes? These are questions without answers, I know.

On a happier note, a turn down an unknown road revealed a pretty covered bridge, one of the many that make this region famous, poised over a creek. We stopped to take pictures and to rest before heading back home after our short adventure.

For me, summer is just beginning, although chronologically it may be nearly halfway done. The intensive three-week session I taught again this year ended July 1st, my husband and I marked my father's anniversary on July 2nd, my sister-in-law, her husband and kids visited with us from July 2-4, and on that Tuesday, July 5th, my husband and I turned 17. It's funny that it doesn't feel that long at all, which I guess is a very good thing. He still takes my breath away, that is how handsome he is!

On my desktop, I have still a few papers to grade for the summer program and I have an article to revise by Aug. 1 and I'm beginning to work on my book project as well, already planning a trip to Houghton Library at Harvard next month. All of it manageable, none of it a rush, like the pace of my life during the school year.

The best thing of it all is summer, with its clear blue skies and its yellow heat and even its sweaty humidity and pop-up storms and the concert of cicadas every morning, which announces another scorcher to come. Summertime is precious time, and I hope to mark every single day of this first relatively free summer. It has been long in coming though I know it will be quick in passing.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Usually, anniversaries are happy times of celebration. But today marks a year since my beloved papi left us to go, as he liked to say, al otro lado de las cosas.

It's been a year filled with dates when not having him hit home hard, like on my birthday in October or on his birthday in February or on Father's Day just last month.

Today, my husband and I walked the dogs to the commemorative bench mami and us had built for him and we placed a little flower offering I bought at the farmer's market this morning.

Papito, wherever you are, you must know how much we all miss you and how, while the grief is perhaps a little less intense a year later, your absence is no less keenly felt.