In the brackish water between summer and fall, busy and slow seasons I've been thinking about how the wedding season pairs up with the growing season. And the very busiest months of the year land around harvest. As it unwinds, the less kinetic and more contemplative season begins: assessing the year, deciding what inventory to sell, thinking about new photos to take, website changes--like a farmer looking through seed catalogs and planning for the spring. Not a farmer. My grandfather. I think of him at the dining room table looking through the sweet corn catalogs with their honeyed names, Avalon, Silver Duchess, Peaches & Cream, Buttergold, thinking about the next year.
My sister sent me this Mary Oliver poem and I couldn't believe I never read it before.
Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,
the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back
from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere
except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle
of unobservable mysteries – - -roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This
I try to remember when time’s measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn
flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay – - – how everything lives, shifting
from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.
The last two Augusts, Dave and I have spent a week with our family at a cabin in the Maryland panhandle--a place I didn't even know existed until last summer. On the way to the cabin there are hills. I realized that hills didn't feel like a special occurrence for everyone when I commented on the beautiful hills when I was traveling with a friend from Kentucky. Everywhere she went--Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee--looked the same, hilly or mountainous. A flat 180º angle is my normal so any elevation shift feels rare. There was one valley close to the cabin that got my attention on the drive in.
With unstructured time, I cook and bake and my twin nieces are seven now and like to help, at least for a few minutes. We made mini plum tarts. ("Sugar plums! Can we make sugar plums?") After a day of intermittent baking, right before sunset, Dave and I loaded up the car and drove to the spot. On the corner was a roadhouse with a man power-washing the porch. I asked him if it was alright if we took some pictures in the grass and he didn't mind.
My car is always full of things that belong someplace else. The embroidered white tablecloth is car staple. We laid it out in the grass and I frosted the carrot cake on the ludicrously uneven surface while we both shooed crickets that kept jumping into the frosting. We took a few photos right as the sun sunk down behind the ridge. And while Dave was offering the power-washing man a plum tart ("No, thank you! I just had two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches inside!") a deer came over to see what I was doing. I know. I think it's strange, too.