Report from Vermont: Summertime

Charlie's_Boat_HouseYesterday was hot and today is forecast to be more so. Last evening we went to the lake for a picnic, something we do as often as possible during warm weather. We were tired following the holiday weekend and a long work day, so made a salad and arranged to pick up a pizza on our way to the park.

We are well past the solstice but evenings remain long, twilight stretching out forever. The evening promised a lovely sunset, but we were too tired to wait for it, so after a simple meal (often our picnics are complex gastronomical celebrations) we came home. Jennie had planned to walk down to our neighborhood beach for a swim, but never made it past our neighbor’s house. She and our neighbor sat on the stoop and chatted as the sky very slowly darkened.

Our neighborhood beach lies at the foot of our street, down a long, steep embankment. I can no longer manage the stairs, but I will periodically peer at the lake from atop the cliff. This time of year the sun sets well to the north, blocked from view by a long outcropping. Our bay is formed by two such landmass extensions, perhaps half a mile apart. The outcroppings give the bay a protected feel, a sense of invulnerability that is pure illusion as we discovered in a storm a few autumns back; we left a kayak on the beach during a tempest, never to be seen intact again.

I like to drive the couple of miles to Charlie’s Boat House where I can use the ramp to get to the water. Charlie’s is a community institution, a reminder of a more traditional Vermont, and we often wonder down to visit even when we have no intention of getting into the water. This past weekend we took the kayak down to Charlie’s for the first paddle of the summer. Usually we manage to get into the water much earlier in the season, but this year has been unusually hectic for a variety of reasons, and we managed nary a visit to Charlie’s, a kayak, or a bike ride until the last couple of weeks.

The gardens look a bit like my hair with thinning and bald places aplenty. For the second year in a row we had trouble with seed germination, even with replanting. I suspect inconsistent watering, and shade from our growing maple, are to blame, although other gardeners have spoken of similar issues. Whatever may be the cause, we are disappointed, although this does not stop us from enjoying the fruits of Jennie’s labor. This week we have been eating mescalin, and note the tomatoes and eggplant will soon arrive at the table. Fortunately, our area farmer’s markets are rife with produce, so our summer habit of living largely on veggies is well supplied.

Although the weather bureau states we are only a couple of inches short of precipitation for the year, the lushly green landscape seems, paradoxically, eternally thirsty. Certainly the absence of snow cover this spring has fueled the dryness, as have the many long, hot days we have experienced this summer. I almost said “enjoyed” but this being Vermont where people traditionally celebrate the coolness of our summers, and my having Post Polio Syndrome and the accompanying heat and cold intolerance, “experienced” seems more the proper word. We are promised a soaking rain for the weekend, and shall see if that comes to pass. We certainly hope to see rain, as does our garden; watering helps but does not have the same beneficial effect.

Looking further ahead, we are in a weather pattern that may favor tropical storms come late summer and autumn. Such storms can be a mixed blessing, refilling the aquifers but also threatening severe flooding as our mountains and hills channel the runoff into our small streams and rivers. All that rainfall goes downhill quickly! We’ll all keep a watchful eye to the south as the summer progresses; in the meanwhile, we’ll hope for enough rain to keep drought at bay.

Well, the cool breeze that greeted me through the office window when I sat down to write has warmed considerably as I’ve sat here. The morning is quite, birdsong having diminished remarkably in the last week or so. Jennie has returned from a morning bike ride, breakfast has been enjoyed, and the day calls. I guess it is time to get to work.

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