Summer (really?)

Summer is speeding past and what have I done?

Front walk

My bower of flowers is not so lush as usual. The weather has been odd. Some days hot and muggy (we think 75F is hot), many days cold (in the 50’s and 60’s) and wet.¬† Apparently it’s all because of the jet stream.

Jerry is cutting wood for winter fuel. Mike came by and with his bucket extension truck cut limbs from the big fir near the house.

Mike's tree bucket

Next year we will have to take that dramatic old tree out– it’s too close for safety and is dropping tree debris on the roof. Then Mike felled two big trees, trees that needed to come down as they were too close to Jerry’s workshop. When I see big trees fall I feel a pang of sadness.

The fir falls

They are so mighty in life and fall with such a final, thunderous crash. Deer follow Mike’s truck to nibble on the tender top branches.

One of the trees was a majestic fir, we estimated about 50 years old. It will make enough fire wood to keep us warm all winter. I grieved for it, but remembered that I have another fir that I planted about 7 years ago in a spot far enough from any building. The other downed tree was a medium sized birch which has lovely wood. I always think I should do something artistic with the wood. Then I remind myself that I don’t have time to do the artistic things I have already started. And I am rather old to be learning a new craft.

Once down the trees have to be cut up for firewood. Mike and Jerry made fireplace length sections with the chain saw and then Mike offered Jerry his splitter for the huge rounds. Jerry is reluctant to borrow things from others, but Mike insisted. He said, this is Lummi Island and we share things all the time. Then he and Mark delivered the splitter to the fallen tree and Jerry has been splitting logs every day.

Splitter -- a labor saving device

Now there is a big pile of split wood which soon I will stack.

From the fir -- there's more coming

All summer I have worried about many things. The law suite slogs on, costs lots of money nothing much¬† happens. When something does happen I have an sharp anxiety spike. I worry about my son Ben. He’s doing well in school having returned at age 40 to get a bachelor’s degree. He’s going back to Georgia to be near his children and I know this is best for everyone, but nevertheless I worry.

I read on my Kindle. My British daughter told me she heard on the radio about a novelist, Elizabeth Taylor, whose work is enjoying a revival in England. Taylor had been neglected as a major writer but there is a renewed interest in her work. She has been compared to Jane Austen (wrongly, I think) and Elizabeth Bowen (I agree with that comparison.) First I read Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont and loved it. It is a fine period piece; it evokes the time, 60 years ago, when my grandmother was an old woman. And it gently illuminates the life of old people. I love the way Taylor lets one peek into the minds of almost all her characters so the reader knows what they are thinking as well as what they are saying and doing. I have now read another of her novels called In a Summer Season and am in the middle of a third, A Game of Hide and Seek.

I went with my friend Cathy on the island tour of edible gardens. There’s a great interest these days in growing vegetables at home. The island has a community garden.

Community garden cabbages -- not sure whose they are

I learned a lot; my tomatoes have benefited from what I learned from Nancy Simmerman about removing the lower leaves and all signs of wilt when they first appear. There is a lot more air circulating around in my greenhouse now. I visited Linda and Randy Smith’s garden — an example to inspire, but they live the life of gardening together, something that I can’t do. I have too many other projects and Jerry has no interest in plants.

Smith's onions

The blue things behind the onions are water filled plastic shields around plants that need protection from the capricious weather.

Randy and Linda sponsor meetings about how to collect seeds and all the most modern (organic) horticultural methods. I will confess here that I sometimes resort to miracle grow (sorry, Randy).

The poppies and the sea

These are Randy and Linda’s poppies, but we all have them on the island.

I saw Henry’s place on the northern tip of the island. The lawns are smooth and the vegetable and flower beds manicured. There are paths along the cliffs overlooking the wild rocky beach. There is a huge eagle’s nest in a tall fir. We were told they raised a chick (would you call a young eagle a chick?) this year. Then there was a big neatly stacked wood shed. Henry does all the splitting and stacking himself when he isn’t manicuring his gardens. He is 84. He does have some help with the large vegetable garden. I forgot to bring my camera for that part of the trip.

I finally got to see my absolutely adorable great granddaughter, Allison. She is six months old and a real sweetheart. She is number 2 of 3 (great grandchildren, that is), and there will be a 4th in January or February of next year!


I have to show you just one more of that sweet baby.

We will try to get to Alaska for a very short visit at the end of August. But there is a lot of work still to do to get Ben off to Georgia.

Things happen in the law suit in September that we must be back here for. Jerry and I are so lucky to have each other to hold on to.

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11 Responses to Summer (really?)

  1. Marja-Leena says:

    What do you mean, your garden is not as lush as usual?! It is just gorgeous. If mine were like that I’d be delighted. After a wet and cold spring and early summer we had too much heat for almost three weeks, followed now by heavy downpours that have made a mess of everything. The trees and shrubs are of course growing tremendously and we too need some tree cutting and pruning, and will need a bucket like that! The work around home and gardendoes get a little more demanding as we age, but then, we can take our time.

    Yet, as you say, we realize at this age that our time on earth is ever more precious and might be shorter than we hope, and especially the time we have together with our loved ones. You are a wonderful example of one who makes the most of your time with home, family and travel. I hope the stresses are minimal and you can both continue to find many shared pleasures this summer, dear Anne.

  2. Ernestine says:

    Understand so much you share. Your garden is beautiful, but nothing is the same here in Northern Tennessee. I built my cottage at the edge of the woods and some large trees had to be cut down. After a storm a few days ago I now know one very close will have to come down soon. It makes me sad.
    I envy your wood pile for there was a time that I burned wood in the winter. Living alone I cannot bring the wood in and clean the stove. But I still smell the wonderful scent of wood burning and the warmth that only burning wood can bring.
    Your little one “Alison” is beautiful. With granddaughter’s in their early 20’s I know that it will not be long that I have great grandchildren.
    Yes, you are lucky to have Jerry and sometimes I think how wonderful it would be
    if I had found another special one. I am alone, do much but cannot do what I have in the past. It seems in my late 70’s that I have grown old all at once but guess it has been going on and I did not notice.
    So sorry about the lawsuit. Difficult for me to handle stress anymore.
    This post was special and I related to the gardening as well.
    Thank you…

  3. Hattie says:

    As I was reading your post, my granddaughter came in and showed me her perfect party dress that she is going to wear when we go out to eat this evening. So I’m enjoying these pleasures, too. It’s funny: we have some notion of peace in old age, but then we really never get that. And we probably don’t want it either! But as one of your commenters says, I can do without stress, and I think your whole adventure on that score has been hard. I do hope you can go up to Alaska again without your trip being cut short.
    And thanks for the tip on Elizabeth Taylor. It’s always nice to hear about writers whose work I might enjoy.

  4. wisewebwoman says:

    I am so delighted you discovered Elizabeth Taylor, I’ve read all her books, some twice. One about an evil girl which shocked me and now I can’t remember the title (ah these memory lapses!)
    I too have my Leo to cut and stack my wood, I need to be more grateful I have a wood lot up the hill behind my house and a man to cut it and barn it and then bring it into the house in the winter.
    Sorry to hear about the stress, I can’t handle it anymore at all and I’d be doing far more complaining than you about it!
    Yes, you and Jerry are lucky in finding each other!

  5. Betty says:

    Oh Anne – if you did nothing but post in your blog a few times you would be doing enough! Your words are simply gems. Have you thought of making a 20th Century Blog Book for you children and grandchildren – I think you should and I don’t imagine it is all that difficult – probably just have to get it on a CD and take it to a printer. I wish I could get a garden like that while wasting the summer away! What a beautiful intelligent little Great – does she not look like you? I too am sorry Bert is haunting you but glad you and Jerry are in love. Live in the hour, especially an hour with a book – or your husband.
    take care,
    PS – oh those gorgeous poppies – I took a picture of them and am going to draw/paint them if you don’t mind. I will, of course, give you credit for them.

  6. Is there any more that I can add to all the thoughtful comments already here? All give you more credit than you offer yourself, so I hope you hear all of us who are delighted to read your words, admire your photos, and wish away the stress.

    We’re making plans to drive north for a week and I’m checking your posts to get ideas for what we might not want to miss.

  7. Freda says:

    I should like nothing more than to sit on your porch in amongst the flowers – they are gorgeous. What a wonderful collection of photos. I shall have to go take some pics in the rain!

  8. pauline says:

    What a darling great grand! I guess it’s true what they say – wood warms you thrice: when you cut it, when you carry it, and when you burn it. I’d add stacking as a 4th way!

  9. For some strange reason the photos in this post are not showing at all. The ones in the rest of your posts are, but not the ones in this one. So, therefore I’m the poorer because I won’t be able to know what you were writing about, nor your always beautiful images. We’re having a very mixed summer, more like an early autumn, if you ask me.

    Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  10. Friko says:

    I may be late but still appreciative, I can promise you. I was very rude about petunias in my current post, but perhaps you’ll forgive me. Your spectacular display has silenced me.

    our summer seems to be much like ours, cool and damp and unable to bring more than half a week of good weather. We don’t use logs any more, I don’t want the hassle of cleaning out the fires. But I certainly miss the warm glow and gorgeous smell. Will your fir be ready by beginning of winter? I thought they’d have to be left for a year or two.

    What a gorgeous baby, to watch this sweet addition to the family surely calms any nasty reasons for stress. Enjoy your break. Hope to see you and the Duchess in the UK.

  11. Randy says:

    I’m catching up on my blog reading. Thanks for the nice comments. My onions are now out of the ground. A really great crop this year. Each onion is usable. Some I chop and freeze (maybe 15 lbs), the rest I cure (dry) keeping the frozen ones in reserve. Today I am doing pesto, experimenting with fermented pickles and getting ready for another batch of zucchini relish. My spouse has taken off for Hawaii with the kids and left it all for me to put by.

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