We journeyed back to Wyoming for the eclipse in late August. Because Jackson is so much further north than Denver, the trees were already turning and there was a slight chill in the air. Autumn is my favorite season, so I relished the anticipation of cooler temperatures and cozy evenings. We ate out at our favorite Thai restaurant and had coffee almost every morning at our favorite coffee shop. On the way back to the cabin from town, we spied the Trumpeter Swans lazily gliding along the river. During our last trip to the valley in June, every time I remembered to bring my camera there was nary a swan in sight, and yet every time I forgot my camera we would see the whole swan family. This time, I finally caught them when I was prepared. I love watching how smoothly they swim through the river, and how striking their white plumage is against the grey water. We don’t get swans in Denver, as we are too far south, so they are quite a special sight. Swans seem to bring their own quiet magic to the rivers in Wyoming, and I feel so lucky we witnessed a mother and her signets.
One blustery afternoon (the day before the eclipse), Kevin fished out the old kite from the basement and we went out back to enjoy some old-fashioned kite flying! I hadn’t flown a kite since I was a kid and I have to say it was just as much fun as I remember. Though there were many failed launch attempts, the greatest difficulty turned out to be getting the kite back down to the earth after we unleashed it to a great height. We had to have my dad help reel it in, especially since I was nervous about someone getting a finger caught in the extremely tense kite string. Despite this, I can’t wait to find our old kite at home and give it a whirl some windy autumn afternoon.
I have a forthcoming post about the eclipse that I intend to share in the next few days. For now, I’m trying to endure the last lingering summer heat. 97 degrees today! At least the tomatoes are happy. I certainly am ready for autumn and am already thinking about hot chocolate and apple crisp.
p.s. I finally started to run short on WordPress photo storage. You can now view my new Flickr account here! I’m using Flickr now to embed URLs into my posts. So far, so good!
Around here, the summer has shifted. Though we are still steeped in heat, there’s a glimmer of something else in the morning and in the evening, a slight whisper of chill in the air. By no means have we entered into autumn, rather, the summer is in a different faze. Gone are the long days of June or the scorching hot early July days, and here instead are thunderstorms in the afternoon, ripe peaches and tomatoes, and a transition to the harvest. Our garden has begun yielding its bounty, with green beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers harvested last week. We’ve used garden thyme, basil, chives, tarragon and rosemary in our cooking, and we are enjoying golden plums, peaches, and tomatoes from our farm share. What a wonderful time for cooking and eating!
In the spirit of celebrating this bountiful season, I chose to celebrate our first Lammas at the beginning of the month. The name Lammas originates from the pagan holiday “Lughnasadh,” which was later christianized to “loaf mass” and then “Lammas.” Observed on August 1st, Lammas celebrates the first loaf of bread baked from each year’s newly harvested wheat. Though we don’t grow our own wheat, we nevertheless baked bread to mark the beginning of our harvest season. I like that this holiday recognizes the beginning of the bountiful time of year, and also marks the transition I was already feeling from early to late summer. Our bread ended up being a partially successful experiment… We think our dough was too wet, and are eager to try again soon! Now, I’m trying to soak in these stormy days and raucous nights as the crickets, cicadas, and buzz-bugs create a cacophony in the trees.
A storm is beginning outside my window, and the trees are sighing as the wind picks up. I hope everyone gets a chance to go outside and enjoy some thunder!
I’ve been a bit slow with posting recently, so here’s an assortment of the best garden photos from the last month along with some snaps of July 4th.
The garden is in full swing, we harvested all our remaining lettuce last week and are now looking forward to some ripening tomatoes. Asters, California bluebells, Victorian climbing roses, poppies, and sage are all blooming and the honeybees love the abundant blossoms. Our little herb garden has doubled in size since I last mentioned it in this post and I’ll make sure to add some photos next time. The California bluebells are from that herb garden, and our very own pink hollyhock is about to bloom. I always feel so grateful for the midsummer abundance. I regret that I didn’t celebrate Midsummer this year – I had to work that evening – but being out in the garden feels like a celebration in itself, and with our Green Man looking over everything it feels almost enchanted.
July Fourth was quiet this year. It was Kevin’s idea to “grill out” and I’m so glad we did! We spent time with family, cooked delicious burgers for dinner (with homemade pickles!) and watched an amazing fireworks show with family friends. Afterwards, we had our traditional black cows (root beer floats), which were perfectly refreshing on a warm evening. I might have to continue the black cow tradition throughout the summer…
I hope everyone is having a beautiful and relaxing season soaking in the sunshine.
Hazy, scummy, and sparkling with little gnats and flies, it lulls me to sit beside it. The pond in summer. Its stillness intensifies in midday, the geese are dormant on the bank, ducks float and bob sluggishly, but there is a strange paradox at work. Through the muggy slowness of the afternoon, dragonflies zip in and out of view, landing once on this cattail, then on that weedy tuft. Pelicans too gyrate in the water, dipping under briefly for a swallow of fish. They swim in synchronization, an odd echo of Swan Lake perhaps, as they dip and glide and turn. Here, I am in this moment.
There is a word for pelicans: primeval. They seem like harbingers of luck, guardians of a different kind of age. In flight too, they seem impossible, black wingtips suddenly and thrillingly visible. It seems like I need them. Or perhaps it’s just hard to imagine the hardened blue-white lake in winter without them. Now they settle on the water, gathered as they drift, ducking under, then emerging again.
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I will be back soon with some photos from July 4th and some gardening updates.
Be well xx
Here’s the last smattering of pictures from our trip. It was joyful, restful, and filled to the brim with amazing wildlife. Aside from the previously depicted chiselers, grizzly bear, buffalo, elk, moose, bluebirds, goldfinch, and antelope, we were fortunate enough to see a Western Tanager on our hike up by String Lake. My mom always says they look like a roll of lifesavers, a bright and cheerful bird among the soft colors of this landscape. We also saw a hawk hovering in our backyard one morning, no doubt hunting. I was lucky enough to catch him in a moment of poised searching before he swooped away.
Last but certainly not least, Kevin and I were lucky enough to see a red fox on our last evening in the valley. We were just returning from a pre-dinner drive when we stumbled across the fox dipping in and out of the sage near the road. A nice family pointed her out to us, and as she hopped in and out of the brush she looked almost like a dolphin cresting waves in the sea. Foxes are my favorite animal, my “spirit animal” if you will, so of course this last special offering from the valley seemed extra meaningful as we prepared to leave the next day.
Homecomings are always a swirl of various emotions. I’m always sad to leave, but there’s something comforting and calming about returning to a daily rhythm. When we go away to travel, we gather new experiences and perspectives and bring them home with us. I feel so lucky I gathered these lovely memories to bring home with me!
When we return to nature, we come closer to a part of ourselves often forgotten in the hubbub of daily life. The stillness of a mountain lake at midday, the whir and warble of birds, the slow deliberate grazing of moose or elk, remind us of the need to slow down and exhale. There’s no posting or updating or checking “just to make sure” on the trail – there’s only sky and pine and dust. I think I needed this reminder. How magical to see a moose so close up by Jenny Lake, and how amazing to see an elk in velvet antlers.
At night, we looked at constellations in the sky: Orion, Cassiopeia, Taurus, the dippers, the milky way. The air was clear and cold, and I snuggled down under layers to look up at the frozen stars. Later, we had peppermint tea to warm us up. How special it feels for us city folk to see the stars, and how bittersweet too.