A switch has been flipped in the garden, everything responding to the late-summer force that urges plants to grow higher, fuller, faster. Eating from our yard has become less whimsical novelty, more: All mouths on deck, everything is ripening now! (Full organic disclosure: Col spotted and removed an earwig from my sauteed broccoli tonight).
These summer evenings, we’re out till dark-thirty, closing down the river, Junction Creek, Fassbinder Park, Col and Rose still swinging high into the pinking sky as the teenagers and deer creep in, claiming the next shift.
The evening grosbeaks (MIA since spring) have returned to our feeders with their babies, all hapless and fuzzy and incessantly hungry. The parents occasionally pretend to forget about their offspring, until they show up flapping and mouth-gaping and unavoidable. Dan and I watch, amused, feeling a certain kinship.
Transition is in the air. Dan and I look at the winter squash plants, loaded with baby fruits, and wonder how many will make it before the hammer of frost descends. We’ve been whispering the phrase, “back to school” to the children, trying to break the news gently. Nightfall seems to be edging in earlier to our days.
It’s unfathomable how much can happen in one Colorado summer! It’s so full and fleeting and special. Like one of those trick candles you can’t blow out, summer’s a gift you can never fully unwrap. The kids have swam in lakes, rivers and creeks, these very bodies of water that will become bone-chillingly off-limits in a matter of months. A whole garden can rise (and feed a family) and fall.
Rose has sprouted trunk-like legs, learned to do backbends and has earned $69 in a dog-walking business toward the goal of buying and caring for a rat. (A animal-loving pragmatist, she’s been known to say, “If the rat dies, they’re only $6, so I’ll just buy another one!) On neighborhood walks (walking one of her canine charges), she jumps in puddles, cartwheels down sidewalks, pledges undying love to decrepit one-eyed cats that thread between her legs. Watching her unbridled enthusiasm is like beholding a classical artwork, the kind that lodges in your heart and tells you something about the indomitable human spirit.
Col has been fashioning spears for spear fishing. It’s been one of those things that, as a parent I think, “Oh cute, my son’s talking and planning a lot for this spear-fishing thing.” And then I actually tune in and realize he’s fashioned four different types of seriously impressive spears from Dan’s broken arrows and one old tent pole and is damn serious about nailing a trout.
Driving home from the mountains last Sunday, all four of us singing along with Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” loudly and tunelessly, I felt so overcome with unexpected joy and gratitude for the weird lot of us. How we spent the past hour huddled around a fire grilling deer and then devouring it with fingers (remembered homemade marshmallows, forgot plates and forks). How Rose pulled out impractical, purple “camp shoes,” one size too big, to kick back in around the fire after our hike. Me with the smallest headache from Rose accidentally slamming my nose with her forehead as she leaned in for a nuzzle. The larkspur singing a song called purple. And the clouds issuing enough of a snow squall to remind us who’s boss.
Thank you, summer.
Reach Rachel Turiel at firstname.lastname@example.org.Visit her blog, 6512 and growing, on raising children, chickens and other messy, rewarding endeavors at 6,512 feet.