We went camping for a few days last week, up in NH, in and around Conway and North Conway. Took the kids to Storyland, built fires, explored, and lazed. No laptop, no tv, no phones (mostly). Although we did listen to part of the Sox game Thursday night on the truck radio. Kids fell asleep early, so Bill and I sat around the fire and listened to some of the game…it was nice. Didn't need to see it – just listening was enough, watching the flames and coals shimmer in the dark.
Trips like that – northern New England – always affect me the same way. They make me want to start quilting again. They make me want to simplify. To clean out. To pare down. To live differently than I do most of the time.
And coincidentally, it is mid August, and though it is still technically summer, the transition to autumn has already begun. We can see it in the gardens – plants like the zucchini and pattypan and cucumber have given all they can give. Leaves are curling up and fading. Tiny, last-of-the-season fruits are clinging to the vines – itty, bitty pattypans…a half-big, half-small cucumber way up high on the plant.
We are picking tomatoes as they ripen, and I'll pack some away, but it really hasn't been a banner year for them. We won't put away nearly as much as last year. But that's how it goes. We get what we get. If I want more, I'll buy them at the farmers' markets, along with corn, which we didn't grow this year because we really don't have the space to make it worthwhile. It's fun, but the plants take up a lot of space that we could be using for other, higher-yield plants.
We've got second rounds of some things in…kohlrabi…scallions…more carrots…pak choi…I forget what else. Bill's gone out to pick the ripe blueberries. I should make some batches of pesto this week, too.
It's harvest season, yes, or at least the start of it. But to me, this time of year is more about the start of things than the winding down. The beginning of the school year has always felt much more like the real beginning of the year than January 1st. Maybe it's just the feeling of transition, from summer to fall, from shorts and bathing suits to new shoes and school clothes. So much is new, especially when you're a child – new teacher, new classmates, new pencils and pink erasers. It is the start of the school year, and really all of your life, at least until you're out of high school or college, revolves around the beginning and ending of that year. Things don't begin in January at all. You go back to school after the winter break. You're in the middle of winter. It's not even time to start seeds yet. September - or late August – is really the start of the year, no matter what the calendars tell you.
And spring cleaning? No…I don't feel like cleaning then. I feel like it now. The humidity – at the moment – is somewhere else, and the cooler mornings are so much more invigorating than mid-summer warmth.
I am in the mood to clear out. Clean out. Get rid of what I don't need or want. Just like my husband will be pulling up the spent vegetable plants and composting them, leaning out the gardens to prep them for next year, so I will do the same in our house. It's that time of year. 'Tis the season, at least for me.