Saturday, August 20, 2005

Seasons change

Last week there was a nip in the air, a certain aroma, and that was that….summer is on the downward slide. I remember how shocked I was last year when I realized that summer in Vermont only lasts two weeks. I’m enjoying looking back at what I wrote last year—before Vermont Diary was a blog—to see what was going on in the garden.

We are in the heyday of summer. Last week they took away dozens of large round haybales from the field across the road: first cut.

In the gardens, leaf and flower are exploding. The farmer’s markets, which just last week offered up veggie starts, now have radishes and lettuce, some broccoli and peas. My nasturtium window boxes are everything I could have wished.

And it is not a moment too soon. Last week, as I was sprucing up the house for fourth of July visitors, I stopped and sniffed. Surely not! The furnace had kicked on. After I turned the thermostat further down from its 58 degree setting, I did have to laugh. The fourth of July! Guess I should have had all the windows closed.

A friend called yesterday and said, “We need to do something fun. We probably only have this one weekend before the light changes.” Huh? When the light changes, she explained, the mood of the locals takes a turn toward winter. It ‘s still some time away, but there is wood to be gathered, houses to be painted, all the maintenance to be crammed into these few weeks of summer.

A gynecologist here in town has posters on his ceiling, a non uncommon tactic to distract patients from the indignity of drape and stirrups. His posters show a Vermont landscape in summer and in winter. It must be a standing joke—I have heard it twice last year—that the summer scene only lasts two weeks. It’s not so far from the truth.

Between July 4th (when the furnace came on) and next weekend when the light changes is only two weeks. There’s more of July to enjoy, of course, and all of August. There’s the two-week heat wave to come, and all the bounty of garden produce—the period when you have to lock your car so people don’t put zucchini in it. There is the second cut of hay, another important calendar marker.

Summer, by the way, is officially over Labor Day. It ends earlier here than in other places, but we know it is over because the Creamee stands close. The air gets nippy, and preparation for winter goes into overdrive. The constant awareness of where we are in the calendar is one of the things I love about Vermont. There is hardly ever a day that just stands still. Well, maybe for the two weeks of summer.

This morning again, I got up and closed all the windows, noticing that window and sash need a good scrubbing before winter comes. Time to close up that enormous mousehole in the room with the oil tank. Time to think about moving herbs into pots. Last chance to have a garage sale or do as Vermonters do and just put things out with a big FREE sign. Our local Senator opines that the change usually matches up with the Barton Fair—that’s the day she pulls out her flannel-lined jeans. My adaptation to this harsh climate and these dour, kind people is far from complete, but I was proud that last week I felt it for myself—the moment when the season changed.

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