Sunday, August 16, 2015

Back to School

August is an annual reality check. All those projects you had planned for the summer? Well . . . they probably didn’t get done and by now you know they won’t. Does it really matter?

On the other hand, some things do matter. Mark and I have a goal of “wine at nine” on the terrace. It doesn't happen often, but it’s grand when it does. We look at Higham’s Peak in the distance and watch the willows sway against the breeze. We might hear the squawk of a rooster pheasant or the scree of a hawk. Last night a great horned owl swooped down and gathered herself onto the limb of a cottonwood. And if we stay late enough we'll see bats dart under the eaves.

It’s a monarch butterfly year. And hummingbirds! They love the coneflowers and salvia. The songbirds are dwindling for the season. That makes me sad.   

I’ve been canning green beans. Mark and the kids love them. They’re comfort food in our house and make beef and potatoes a real winter meal.   

Our hired boys - young men I should say – have gone back to college. We hated to see them go. Anna came and went, only spending about a week at home.  

I remember this feeling.

It happened every year after the 4-H fair. We had been super busy helping the kids with their steer and horse projects. They had been leading their steers, grooming and bathing them, feeding them twice daily. They were working their horses regularly. The saddles had been soaped and oiled, the blankets washed. They had gone round and round the arena practicing for the horse show. Then the fair was over and the steers were gone and the horses back in the pasture; their shiny coats and blackened hooves dusty once more. School was just around the corner. A few more days to relish . . . and cherish.

Mark helped Anna change the oil in her car before she left. Someday hopefully a good man will do it for her, but for now she’s learning about self-reliance and the value of maintenance – to secure the drip pan before she loosens the plug, to write down her mileage for future reference.

Then she was off. Headed down the gravel lane once more. 

It's not that August is necessarily melancholic. Bittersweet is a better word. It's abundant and rich with the season's bounty, but poignant in its transition between now and what comes next.  

The next day Mark and I spent the day in the hills, just the two of us. We didn’t have much to talk about, pretty quiet. We brought two bulls home, put out salt and marveled over the amount of feed in front of the cows. We came home to rain.

There’s a line from the movie On Golden Pond that fits August pretty well. Katherine Hepburn is talking to her daughter Cheltzey, played by Jane Fonda. She is scolding her, admonishing her (a woman of about 50 herself) to finally forgive her 80-year-old ailing father played by Henry Fonda. Hepburn makes it clear that she needs to grow up and leave her childish behavior behind. 

Time marches on, Cheltz. I suggest you get on with it.”

Re-reading grandma Mimi's 1958 self-help book 

I love seeing these guys

green bean extravaganza

sans coveralls

it's quiet all right


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  2. Wendy, this is Ann Anthony, I was wondering if you would like to have these printed in my newspaper, the Island Park News, I love the way you write. give me a call at 208.681.3080