" O the green things growing the green things growing,
The faint sweet smell of the green things growing. "
DINAH MULOCK CRAIK
Happy August! It does not seem possible that we've flipped the calendar to a new month, but here we are. Summer is slipping away. For those of us who have been at home isolating for months now, this whole business has seriously messed with our sense of time—days feel like weeks and months feel like seconds. Maybe it doesn't matter, but on second thought, yes, it does. As humans, we need to know when things happen and what day of the week it is. We need those rituals and signals to help us peg our memories to life events. We certainly recognize the devastation people experience when they lose track of time when dementia sets in. So yes, it matters.
I didn't write a July Edition of The Simple Woman's Daybook, so I didn't want to miss August. I've been joining with Peggy our host off and on for more than a decade now. I'm glad she continues to carry on the tradition she started many years ago. It is one of those old familiar rituals that ground me in these unsettling times. Writing, blogging, and gardening certainly does that for me. Making pancakes on a Saturday morning for brunch does too—it sets the weekend apart from the weekday. It all helps to keep our feet on the ground when the world feels upside down.
'A daybook is where you share snapshots
of what your days look and feel like'
Outside my window...
The morning is bright with blue skies, sunshine, and refreshing winds. With most nesting over, fewer birds are around the feeders these days. A lone American goldfinch has been visiting over the weekend. The chickadees were yukking it up yesterday afternoon, now that raising families are done for another year, they are being their cheery, chatty selves.
I am thinking...
It has been months since I've been in a shop to browse for anything. I've been going out for essentials, that's all. Funny, I thought I'd miss it, but it turns out I've grown used to not going out and about. My needs and certainly my wants have simplified even as my social circle has grown smaller. I do not feel lack but rather I realize just how much I have and am taking greater pleasure in what is near to hand. My garden and the flowers give me especial delight this summer. And we ensure there's a supply of small continuous treats (like books and flower posies and favourite snacks for tea at three), so life is good, sweet, and beautiful. In the midst, my heart pangs to think not everyone has it so good in their own lives, and I whisper a little prayer for them.
I am thankful...
I finally learned to stay in the present in my thoughts as much as possible as I go through my days. Not to cast my thoughts down the road about what needs to be done in upcoming tomorrows (unless there is something specific I need to plan in advance). Looking too far ahead often brings a sense of niggling unease and slight anxiety. I'm not sure why—perhaps I tend to forget that 'sufficient for the day' is our grace. I have been given grace for today's projects. God promises new mercies and strength every morning. So I conclude that even the slightest fretting about tomorrow's business will surely usurp the energy I so need for today's tasks. ~ found this thought in an old blog post
One of my favourite things...
This rich pinkish purple Rugasa Rosa 'Hansa'. I love how this photo turned out when I took it with my iPhone after the rain. It's so fresh and vibrant I can almost smell it.
I am wearing...
A sleeveless summer dress with a swishy skirt in floral leafy pattern
of shades of light to deep blue and chartreuse. My eyes feast on this colour combo.
I am remembering...
Audrey Hepburn's character, Holly Golightly, from the 1960s movie Breakfast at Tiffany's when she says, "Hand me my purse, darling; a girl can't read something like this without her lipstick."
It's true, I too feel much better prepared for whatever and whoever crosses my path when my lipstick's on. Big question, do you wear lipstick when you go out in public and wear a mask? I do, I still put it on even if no one else can see it, because lipstick always makes me feel dressed and ready to face the world. Just like Holly.
|Photo from Susan's website|
I am watching...
That is to say, I will be watching a Zoom Party with Susan Branch later this month. Susan was scheduled to do a presentation and slide-show with the Duxbury Senior Center about the English Countryside. Due to Covid-19, it became an online event and was opened to the general public to take part. Susan invited her girlfriends to come, so I registered—oh yippee!—my chance to participate in one of Susan's book events, something I've wanted to do for a long time now. She's going to be introducing her brand new book Home for Christmas, which she wrote and illustrated during the Covid lockdown. How is that for making great use of this pandemic business.
I went to get the link for you and found they are not taking any more registrations 😢. I'm sorry if you missed it. However, Susan's new Christmas book can be ordered HERE.
I've been reading...
by Sarah McCoy
And thoroughly enjoying this 'prequel' story about Marilla Cuthbert. The author shares how she came to write this story. She recalls a passage from the original Anne of Green Gables, Chapter XXXVII:
"What a nice-looking fellow he is," said Marilla absently. "I saw him in church last Sunday and he seemed so tall and manly. He looks a lot like his father did at the same age. John Blythe was a nice boy. We used to be real good friends, he and I. People called him my beau."Anne looked up with swift interest. "Oh, Marilla—and what happened?"
Sarah McCoy said Anne's question echoed in her own heart her whole life, and so this novel is her "invention of Marilla Cuthbert and the foundation of Green Gables before Anne Shirley ever arrived with her whimsical free spirit". If you are an Anne fan, you'll like it. McCoy isn't trying to imitate L.M. Montgomery and yet to me the story is seamless, so when the last chapter is done, you will want to continue the tale and reach for the Anne books. It will be interesting when I read the Anne books again if I will see Marilla differently now that I've read her own story.
I have now finished reading...
by Penelope Lively
A blogging friend asked me some weeks ago how I was enjoying Penelope Lively's memoir. It was a full book with so many lovely garden things to read and think about. I underscored many lines and starred new-to-me people, authors, books that I would like to find. I was especially interested to learn about Czech gardener/writer Karel Čapek and his 1929 book The Gardener's Year. He sounds a most entertaining writer, and I laughed so hard at his account of wrestling with the common garden hose.
Here's what Peggy noted: "The garden, for Čapek, is an adversary, a cherished adversary perhaps, but nevertheless the awkward place where the gardener is forever on the back foot. ... Take the simple matter of watering: '... until it has been tamed a hose is an extraordinarily evasive and dangerous beast, for it contorts itself, it jumps, it wriggles, it makes puddles of water, and dives with delight into the mess (mud) it has made, then it goes for the man who is going to use it and coils itself round his legs.' " Can you relate? I surely can.
I am listening to...
the wind in the trees—the rustle and swish of leaves aflutter—it is a sound so summery, is it not?
In the kitchen...
This salad is so delicious on a hot summer day.
Peach and Tomato Salad (Yum!)
1. In a large bowl, combine:
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
4 ripe peaches, pitted, cut into wedges
4 ripe tomatoes, cut into thick wedges
(yellow plums would also work)
2. In a small bowl, whisk ingredients to make a dressing:
1 tablespoon white balsamic or sherry vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons light olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3. Drizzle the dressing over peach mixture; toss to coat.
4. Sprinkle over salad:
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
4 - 6 fresh basil leaves, torn into smaller pieces
In the garden...
Here's a photo taken in the cool of the evening. Our hydrangeas are doing well this summer. The backyard is a work in progress. There are still things that need reworking and, well, 'tis a project for next year now. Two summers ago, it looked like a war zone, but it's coming along. The lawns keeper seeded our bit of grass last year—we quite like the rectangle. He ordered himself a hand push mower this summer and enjoys using it. Maybe he likes that it's old-fashioned, or maybe it means there is no roaring of a gas motor or the whining of an electric one, only the gentle whirring of blades being pushed by hand.
The garden has been really special this summer. It's special every summer, but the main reason I pay closer attention to the beauty and solace of our garden this summer is because we are in it every single day. It's our work, our entertainment, our solace, our holiday resort, our dining spot al fresco....
A favourite quote...
I felt an energy when I read this short list of advice I found on Twitter from Irish novelist Maeve Binchy. Wondering if you also feel that same motivating energy pulsing through these words.
Learn to type. Learn to drive. Have fun. Write postcards. (Letters take too long and you won't do it, a postcard takes two minutes.) Be punctual. Don't worry about what other people are thinking. They are not thinking about you. Write quickly. (Taking longer doesn't usually make it better.) Get up early. See the world. Call everybody by their first name, from doctors to presidents. Have parties. Don't agonize. Don't regret. Don't fuss. Never brood. Move on. Don't wait for permission to be happy. Don't wait for permission to do anything. Make your own life.
A moment from my day...
For you - a posy of sweet peas picked from the garden.
There always seems to be bittersweet in life—the good and beautiful mingling with the hard and painful. My own life is sweet and good these days, and I never want to take for granted the beauty and pleasure I have in this season when the world is upside down and some things twisted past recognition. My heart pangs for those whose lives are so changed due to pandemic related issues. And I whisper a little prayer that folks will have the grace to face their situations, that they will catch sight of something that fills them with courage, comfort, and the hope to push forward to better days ahead.
* * *
On that note,
I'm wishing you a beautiful August.
Photo Credit for Feature Image (Top):
'The Artist's Garden at Eragny', Camille Pissarro,
Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington