August

Oh, August. You are my least favorite month (though you do share that title with February). The only good thing that happens in August is my husband’s birthday, which is today, coincidentally. Happy birthday, lovely love!

But anyway, August. Hot, sweaty August. My garden looks droopy no matter how much water I put on it, and I feel the same way. August is the last real month of summer where I live, and it’s just a hot slog until September, which is glorious and definitely the best month of the year in Montana. Not only is it hot this month, but it’s so dry and the thunderstorms don’t drop any rain, just lightning, which triggers wild fires. And smoke. It actually hasn’t been a bad smoke year (yet) but it sure makes it hazy around here. The light even looks different as a filters through the smoke. Orange light. Which makes it feel hotter to me.

Cliffs

And it’s been a tough month so far, with working all the freakin’ time, trying not to freak out about our bottom line at work (a worry I think most small business owners carry with them like a badge most of the time), counting down the days until September, wondering what new adventure’s on the horizon (can you tell I feel like the days are just creeping by this time of year?).

So it was a big help to me today to read a blog post by one of my favorite bloggers… about living like you’re dying (which we all are).

In the post, by Jenna Woginrich of Cold Antler Farm (LOVE her blog), she notes: “To encourage someone along their path might be the most important thing we can do for each another. Everyday we are given thousands of chances to lighten someone else’s load, to create a smile where one didn’t exist a second ago. How could we choose anything else?”

This is something I need to work on… lightening someone else’s load instead of adding to it. I mean, I try to be nice to everyone I meet. But sometimes, at the end of the day when I’ve been working for 10 hours and I just want to go home and eat dinner, I get tired of being nice and I just try to get through… not worrying about how I act might negatively affect people. But isn’t it so much better to be a light in the world? And I especially need to work on this where my family is concerned. It’s so easy to snap at my spouse, so easy to get short with my son. Why? Because they love me and of course they’ll forgive me. But they are the people to whom I should be the most kind… they are the ones whose smiles matter most to me!

Jenna also writes about the “Doacracy” in this country… if you want something, you just have to DO it. Don’t ask for permission, ignore what people are saying behind your back. I have dreams I am working toward, but lately they’ve felt so very far away, so unattainable. Again, I think it’s because it’s August… the interminable month of hot (can you tell I’m a cold-weather person?), but I am trying to step forward with renewed vigor, with verve, to seize what no one is going to hand to me. I am the only one who can make those dreams happen.

“This is a short, painful, confusing and heartbreaking life where most of us only have a few decades to really live the way we want to. So get on that horse, call that realtor, or buy that plane ticket. Stop living like you aren’t dying. It’s going to kill you if you don’t,” Jenna ends her post. Wow. Does that speak to you or what? Get going with your life!

Does anyone else ever get the feeling like you’re doing some weird voodoo mind meld with the rest of the planet? Or at least that specific blogger who wrote just what you needed to read today?

Sometimes life must be about the little victories, like adding just the right amount of cream to one’s coffee. Little victories are especially important in August. But sometimes life needs to have big victories. New opportunities, new friendships, new perspectives. Bring on the big victories, September. I am SO ready.

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High summer garden

Sorry for the complete lack of posts the past few weeks, people. It’s summertime in Montana which means we’ve had some visitors! And I think those visitors would rather I hang out with them than update my blog. Apologies, blog friends. So, to make up for my neglect, I’m going to post quite a few times this week! I’ll update you from the backlog of the past few weeks.

First up: a little garden update. While I write this, the sky is darkening and there’s a dislocated thump of thunder in the distance. We are so excited for rain, and we hope it does actually rain instead of passing tantalizingly overhead. It’s been very warm here, in the 90s, which is not normal, folks. Aaaah, global weirding. Anyway, it’s finally cooling down, back into the 70s. And I think my poor plants will appreciate the reprieve from the heat. They’ve been rather limp the past week, despite their daily dousing.

These photos are from three days ago, but things haven’t changed much in the garden since then. Things are continuing to ripen well. We’ve pulled three nicely sized zucchinis out and we’re having a bumper crop of green beans. Here’s our Thai peppers reddening into ripeness.

I am excited for the heat they will add to our cooking this fall and winter. A good way to remember the warmth of summer.

My pumpkins are oranging nicely on the vine. Yes, oranging. I did just make that word up, but I think it works well.

Remember the pumpkin photo from July 31?

Here’s the same pumpkin three weeks later:

 

These aren’t the only pumpkins I’ve got growing. I’ve got another that’s still quite green that’s double the size of the other two.

We’re looking forward to pumpkin pies, cookies, and muffins. And pumpkin mush for our son!

The sunflowers are much taller these days. The tallest is about seven feet tall. Here’s yours truly again for scale. Seems like every few days we have a couple more lovely sunflower blooms out there. I planted two varieties of sunflowers: the standard yellow sort and one called Mexican Torch. I adore the Mexican Torch variety. Here’s a bloom:

Definitely saving the seeds from this flower. Isn’t the color just amazing?

The bees like the sunflowers too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comfort food

There’s something supremely comforting to me about making banana bread. Maybe it’s the worn recipe card that’s waved in places from minor kitchen accidents like a little spilled milk or a dripping egg white. Maybe it’s that I barely need the recipe card anymore, checking it more to reassure myself of my memory for the ingredients than out of need. It might be in the too-sweet smell of the over-ripe bananas, their black-mottled peels paper-thin and easily pulled away from the fruit. Or maybe it’s the taste of the batter, tangy, or the color, a soft yellow in the blue German bowl.

Whatever it is, making banana bread, which I do quite frequently since the local grocery store sells over-ripe bananas at 39 cents a pound (thank goodness my husband doesn’t mind eating the sweet bread so often), grounds me. In these too-long days of an unemployed summer, finding productive activities has been difficult. It’s hot outside, it’s hot inside. I’ve started re-reading favorite books to pass the time. I should update this blog more, but editing down hundreds of photos feels daunting these days. Probably because in the face of nothing to do, I’ve wilted a little, unintentionally embracing the nothingness and getting nothing done. Surely this is why American homes have gotten larger and larger to the point of ridiculous: Give the housewives more cleaning to do so they don’t slit their wrists out of tedium.

Though friends and family urge me against it, I openly declare I can’t wait for the school year to start, to get on with the next chapter of my life. August 29 seems so impossibly far off with these dog days of summer stretching interminably before me. I’ve found a job working at a sandwich shop and coffee hut, though, which starts next weekend. My mother is coming for a visit tomorrow. There’s some county fairs I’m itching to attend. We’re moving in a few weeks (Move number 12 in the past three years. Yes, you read that correctly. 12.). So really, August 29 should be here before I know it, but I can’t help wishing the time away. Wishing for autumn, my favorite season. Reading favorite blogs, tending to my garden, weeding the flower bed and reading my books don’t take up much of the day. I’m ready to shed these beetle wings of a life full of stops and starts, ready for the next great adventure, the next career. Something to which I feel more suited (goodbye journalism, it’s been real).

So until the end of August, I find comfort in baking banana bread. Comfort in the familiar recipe (which I’ve made small changes to over the years, improving the resulting loaf), the swirl of the wooden spoon in the batter, clinking against the bowl. I am reminded of a quote from Julie & Julia, one of my favorite films: “Chocolate cream pie! You know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is sure and when I say nothing, I mean nothing. You can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. That’s such a comfort.”