Celebrating Lammas

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rain in the Desert

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A few weeks ago we were in Sedona, AZ for a short visit to my grandparents. Though much of our time was spent with them, we did explore the beautiful desert around where they live. One specific afternoon, my mom and I walked while it was raining. The air in Sedona smells of pine and dust, and the rain intensified the aromas and cooled the hot day a little. We saw some hawks up in a tree along our way, and even heard one calling from his perch. The red and yellow leaves we spied had turned from the heat if you can believe it! It felt odd to see those colors of cooler weather in the desert in the middle of July. We also encountered a dead tarantula on the side of the road… I am happy to report that this was the only arachnid of this variety we saw, dead OR alive.

Walking in the rain was peaceful and rejuvenating, reminding me once again of the importance of our daily rhythms even when away from home. It was so lovely to soak in the beauty of a new landscape, and equally lovely to return to our comparatively verdant surroundings at home.

Sending wishes for summer rain. x

The Fourth of July and Around the Garden

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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.

 

 

 

Early Summer

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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

 

Up in the North Country: Pt. 3

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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!

Up in the North Country: Pt. 2

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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.

 

Up in the North Country: Pt. 1

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But first… we stopped by my favorite Harrison’s Yellow rosebush last Sunday. It grows right on the edge of my old Waldorf Kindergarten and boy oh boy it smells like heaven! I made sure to visit before we left Monday morning because with all the hot sunny days ahead in Denver, I was afraid it would be done by the time we return. I’ll report back soon if there are still blossoms.

And on Monday morning… away we went to Jackson, Wyoming!

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I wish I had taken more pictures of the drive up… Kevin wisely snapped this shot of prairie and sky while I was driving.

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Up on Togwotee Pass we saw a grizz cross the road in front of us!!! I was EXTREMELY glad we were driving and safely in the car and not hiking. Nevertheless it was so breathtaking!

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Later we saw Bison down on the valley floor. Alas, I didn’t get a picture but the whole herd started crossing the road in front of us!

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Six full days up in Wyoming and they were so full to the brim with adventures and fun. I’m always an uneasy traveler (something my mom and I share) so there are many lists, last minute checks, worries about sleeping or being exhausted, and then finally once I actually hit the road I exhale. We drove up last Monday, through Ft. Collins and on through Laramie, Rawlins, Lander, Dubois and finally over the pass and into the valley. The drive is always something I really look forward to, I love the way the land cracks open and how HUGE the sky is. I remember when I was living in England trying to explain to some of my British friends how big the sky is in the Western US, and they didn’t understand what I meant. It seems like you can see the curve of the globe. It definitely gives me chills imagining navigating this vast landscape in nothing but a covered wagon. But there is still so much beauty in the open prairie, high skating clouds, and distant peaks.

Of course the most exciting part of the drive was seeing a Grizzly Bear up on Togwotee pass. I’ve never seen a grizz in the wild before -perhaps once in Yellowstone really really far away… – and it was incredible to watch this amazing creature from such a close distance. Kevin and I pulled our car over and watched her cross the street in front of us and then root around on the side of the road, enjoying nibbling on the green mountain floor. As I mentioned above, I’m extremely glad we weren’t hiking, as I was able to catch some wonderful pictures from the car and I didn’t have to worry about being exposed. How amazing that this powerful animal chose to saunter across our path on Kevin’s first visit to the valley. He must have been my lucky charm.

The first few days in Jackson, we ate Thai food, hung around the cabin, and Kevin and I took so many pictures of the little chiselers who live out back. They were cracking us up with their antics and their upright silhouettes dotting the yard. We took a drive down Antelope Flats road, drove up into the park at dusk, and watched the moon rise over Teewinot. There is definitely magic in the mountain air in the West. When the wind is up after a rain storm you can smell sage perfuming the breeze.

I have so many pictures of this trip I decided to break this post up into several parts, otherwise it would be an overwhelming number of pictures crammed into one post (and even then I’ve had to edit out so many shots).

Looking forward to sharing more!

xx