Tuesday, September 01, 2015

September 1: Peach Tree

The peach harvest is long complete and August heat and absence of rain has all of my garden contemplating an early fall.  A few peach tree leaves have begun to turn.

The rest of the yard shares the peach tree’s sense that things are too dry for a lush fall.  This week's forecasted hazy and hot weather won't ease conditions.

A wet fall would aid in bringing color to the leaves but the longterm forecast doesn’t offer much hope on that front.  This week actually promises to be hotter than usual, just as I have less time to relax in the backyard.  This is perhaps fitting for days to be spent indoors getting ready for students to start classes, but I’m still sorry to see the summer end.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Garden Update: August 31

Though we are by no means as dry as California, we’ve not had much rain in August and gardens are a bit peaked.  Though I don’t water the lawn, my garden gets a good long drink every 4 days, as it did this morning.

There are plenty of tomatoes and basil still to come and I’d like to see a few more dahlia flowers before the first frost, which isn’t due for many weeks.

When the weather is humid, as this week promises to be, it’s essential that the water have time to soak in, so I turn on the sprinkler in the early morning.  In the damp heat of the day, the garden has a chance to grow.  This kind of weather is good for tomatoes and basil, so there is hope of more to harvest as September unfolds.  I'll take it!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Dogwood Signal

The backyard dogwood tree is among the first things I see each morning.  Its weekly changes keep me in touch with the seasons.  It’s surprising that something I see every day can seem to have suddenly changed, as is the case with this first blush of fall color on the leaves.

August ends tomorrow and September is on its way.  Some mornings I can feel autumn in the air.  The dogwood feels the same way.  While I regret the end of summer, the natural world reminds me that time must pass; the next season brings new things to admire and enjoy.  Relax, the dogwood is telling me.  Mother Nature is in charge.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Summer's End

Next week, the faculty return for meetings and the full-time busy activities of school get started.  During the days, there’s meetings and classrooms to be set up.  JT has cross country practice each afternoon.  In the evenings, there’s a bbq for new students and later in the week a supper for international students.  The week will culminate in a new student day.  Then we’ll pause for a three-day weekend and come Tuesday the 8th, it’s all-school, all-the-time.  When that happens, my relatively lazy workdays will transition to 7:30 am - 6 pm days, with work coming home in my bag for the evenings and the weekends.

So my summer is coming to end.  Sigh.

Each morning in the summer, I take my cup of coffee and a good book and I sit outside on the porch to enjoy the sunlight.  

In the last two days, the mornings have been cool.  Not cold, mind you, but a break in the heat that feels like seasonal change is on its way.  I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to flip flops worn to work, relaxed days, and lazy mornings and afternoons, so I’m soaking up all that I can.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

On Peter Rabbit and Laughter

Last week, my friend E and her twins joined us for supper.  Aware that M liked red peppers, I sliced some up for her enjoyment.  She does like red peppers but she also had her way with the radishes.  When I expressed surprise, her mother explained that Peter Rabbit eats radishes.

That’s a girl after my own heart.

Her brother C was less interested in the veggies, though soon after this picture was made he discovered the spray bottle of water I use to keep the cats off the table.  He went to work on the task of squirting water with great concentration.

The twins are nearly three and their enjoyment and delight in the world is evident.  I love this age, a time when new discoveries are everywhere and laughter is frequent.  Toddlers don’t control the market on discoveries and laughter, but they yield to both far more often than stodgy grown ups manage.  We could learn a lesson or two from them.  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Garden Update: August 24

Just like that, the end of August is at hand.  At this point in the garden season, the dahlias are looking great.

There are tomatoes and basil on a weekly basis and when we eat them it tastes like summer.

My shady glen is still lovely to enjoy in the afternoon and the sight of my garden after a fresh watering still makes my heart happy.

Summer, I’m not quite ready to say goodbye.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


At the Nike outlet, I tried to purchase this shirt for JT.  However, as it was obvious that he would never achieve such an outrageous goal, the purchase was rejected.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Real Life Conversations with JT: Personal Grooming edition

The backstory:  Long ago we got over the "why should I bathe every day and use deodorant?" hump of adolescence.  But shaving has been a less easy transition.  By the end of the 8th grade, JT had reached a point where he needed to shave.  He didn’t have a full beard and once a week seemed to do the trick.  I’m not going to say he embraced this responsibility, as it was a reluctant transition.  The passage of time has increased his need to shave and these days, he probably should shave every other day.  Instead, he shaves very other week and in between his cheeks and upper lip are unevenly grizzled.  My suggestion that he looks sketchy and should shave more often has been rejected.  But baseball’s Coach Davey seems to have more influence.

JT:  Coach Davey asked me if I was trying to grow a beard.  I said no and he said, “Oh.”  I think I need to shave more often.

Me:  I believe I have made a similar suggestion.

JT:  I’m gonna shave now.

Me:  Tell Coach Davey the check’s in the mail.

JT (laughing): Okay.

I think we call this progress.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Today, JT starts practice for cross country season.  In a few more weeks, he’ll take a refashioned PSAT to practice for the revised SAT coming his way in less than two years.  A few days after that, he’ll start the Tenth Grade.


Five years ago, JT completed the Fourth Grade and prepared to head to Middle School.  On that day, I remember idly thinking that in eight years he would be leaving home for college.  Back then, eight years seemed like a lot of time.  Of course, the boy in my house in 2010 looked like this.

On that day, I could believe that there was loads of time to watch him grow up.  Now I live with this boy, who is my man-child, and increasingly seems more man than child.

Our days fly by and months are completed.  Then years are done and I find myself frantically holding on to a childhood that has been more fleeting than I could have ever imagined.  At my school, we tell children that high school is four years to learn about yourself and get ready for college.  There is time to get it right, we say.  My head embraces that idea and urges my son forward to try new things, expand his mind, and embrace his future.  I know that he must grow up and find his way in this world.

But my heart wishes to stop time from passing.  I wonder why I ever thought that eighteen years wouldn’t pass by in the blink of an eye.  I often tell new parents that the nights are long but the days and years are fast.  These days, I’m realizing just how fast the time passes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Longball Game

JT played three athletic seasons for his freshman year of high school —— cross country in the Fall, wrestling in the Winter, and baseball in the Spring.  The final season came to end in the last week in May, in a game that seemed to summarize the year’s baseball season.  The team lost by one point thanks to one careless error and two runners left on base.  JT was a 9th grader on this team; he played in a few Varsity games but was mostly the bullpen catcher while the older boys played.  It was a job he enjoyed very much and he was happy to be part of the team.

Years ago, I encouraged JT to play sports for a couple of reasons.  For starters, he needed hours of physical activity each day and sports would help to fill that gap.  I also believed that being on a team would be a good thing for an only child.  It would show him camaraderie and the value of cooperation; it would help to teach him to be generous toward others and would remind him to share.

My son is a fairly athletic kid and he has nearly boundless energy.    But his real talent in the world of sport is being a terrific member of the team.  For a singleton who enjoys (and frankly needs) hours of time on his own, the team concept could have been a challenge.  But he is a loyal team member who marks the season’s accomplishments by things separate from his own achievements.  Two of his most thrilling athletic moments this year occurred independent of a play or win on his own part.  He came into the stands to report to me that when his friend L won his first wrestling match and L’s grandfather was there to see it, “I got chills Mama.  It was great.”  He was impressed by the commitment of baseball teammate C, a Senior who played JV for most of the season, hitting his first home run in a JV game and then, one week later, getting the chance to play in the last Varsity home game and hitting another home run.  As pleased as C was (and wow, that smile still hasn’t faded), JT was just as excited and proud.

Those are the sorts of lessons in life that will last long after the season is complete.  I am glad that JT is able to embrace them.  In an era when virtually every parent on the field is alert for the Division I scholarship that is surely coming their child’s way, I am happy that my son sees sport as a series of lessons in the long ball that is life.