After a mostly mild summer, the last week has brought some heat and humidity. The pace of life has also picked up in the last few weeks. Though I’ve found time for my daily walk in the garden, I’ve also gotten a bit behind on the routine maintenance chores that keep the garden neat and tidy.
In the meantime, the dahlia bulbs planted out front have been hard at work with buds and blooms a-plenty. That means there are several more bouquets in my future.
The side yard has been a perfect place for the dahlias to grow, with enough sunlight and protection from the elements to keep the leafy plants upright and hard-at-bloom. This is my second season of dahlia-growing success and I am excited to plant even more next year. That's happy!
I’ve spent a great deal of my last month of summer taking JT back and forth to assorted cross country practices while keeping up with my own work and the garden. It's an August that is a little busier than usual and likely a harbinger of the school year to come. But at the end of most days, we sit down together to review our accomplishments and the to-do list that remains, laughing all the while. More than anything else, it’s his sense of humor that indicates JT is my child.
The school where JT has attended class for the last 11 years figures large in our world because of its daily presence in our lives. Everywhere I look on the campus is a reflection of his past, his present, and his future. And try as I might I cannot quite believe that he is a tall 14 year-old about to start the adventure that is high school. College will shortly follow, a fact that looms large in my mind. I was thinking of this on Thursday, as my boy strolled off to freshman orientation. He walked through the doors of the Upper School on his own, the result of a confident independence grown in the halls and sidewalks of this campus.
Once upon a time, we made those walks to school together. I had a hand in walking him through the doors of the Lower School, from the pre-K classroom where we hung up his backpack, stowed his lunch, and made ready for the day. The next year, he held my hand as we walked to the Junior Kindergarten room where I helped him set his things in a cubby while he walked confidently through the classroom door by himself. By the next year, my independent 5 year old ordered me to watch him walk to the door of the building. Then he took care of the rest, calling “I love you Mama,” as he pulled open the big door that led to the wonders and accomplishments of kindergarten. He’s since been through plenty more classroom doors on his own, growing up so very quickly.
On Thursday as he set off to 9th grade orientation, my head reminded me that JT’s been walking himself to class for quite some time. But my heart feels like it was just a few minutes ago that I walked an eager three year old to school for the first time. And my heart and my head agree that the next four years will fly through my hands.
I’ve taken to calling my dahlias Big Dahlia. The phrase is stolen from Big Oil, though why this strikes me as appropriate is anyone’s guess. The dahlias are good for the environment and not evil, so, really, they’ve nothing in common. Figuring out how my mind work is a task beyond the scope of this blog, so let's return to the point at hand:. These dahlias are big. This yellow flower is nearly as big as a dinner plate.
The large, impractical flowers are rather my favorites; just so over-the-top that I find them terribly charming during my daily garden walk.
There are smaller dahlia flowers as well, equally lovely and much more suitable for a bouquet.
The shiny green buds suggest that I’ve many more flowers I will yet enjoy. That's happy!
I failed to get my hydrangeas properly trimmed and so mine had plenty of foliage but no flowers. At Colonial Park, the gardener was more careful and so I was treated to this lovely display when I took a walk there last week.
The backstory: Listening to NPR in the car, JT and I heard a story about sexual assault awareness training. The upshot of the training was to remind young men that it’s not okay to get a woman drunk and then have sex with her. When the story was over, I turned to JT and like th responsible parent I am, said, “It’s not okay to get a woman drunk and have sex with her.”
JT: I know that. There was also a story on DeGrassi which showed how bad an idea that is.
JT: But I knew before the Degrassi show. On account of the fact that I’m not stupid.
A few years ago, my friend C, who is an artist and photographer, taught me to make pictures of flowers from directly overhead. I have since shot many a photo this way and it paid off on a recent trip to Somerset County’s rose garden at Colonial Park. There were dozens and dozens of rose bushes in the garden and the flowers were truly spectacular.
The trip to the rose garden was a field trip with my summer office buddies and it was such a nice way for us to enjoy one another’s company, while also stopping to smell the roses.
We are planning a field trip to the Colonial Park perennial garden next week. That’s happy!
One of the best things about summer is homegrown tomatoes. I wait all year for the pleasures of these tomatoes and when enough have accumulated, I make a batch of salsa fresco. JT is a notoriously picky eater who enjoys tomatoes pureed into sauce or salsa but, to my knowledge, has never eaten a sliced tomato, let alone enjoyed one in a salad or sandwich. This year, he was game to try his mama’s homemade salsa fresco and, after several bites, announced, “This is really good.”
I was excited that he even tried something new, let alone liked it. But I am cautious about his sensitivity about being a picky eater, so I calmly allowed that yes, homegrown tomatoes in freshly chopped salsa was rather delicious. And then he offered, “maybe a tomato would taste good on a sandwich.”
I nearly fell off my chair as I agreed that yes, homegrown tomatoes might be tasty on a sandwich. It will serve me right if he becomes competition for the homegrown tomatoes in my garden.
I am not quite ready to say goodbye to the glorious summer. I think that the American political system is worrisome. I like to read ( I just finished Miss Read’s News from Thrush Green, a familiar favorite) garden, cook, and talk.
I love…brown bunnies in the garden, garden-fresh bouquets, back-to-school planning, the sense of humor of 14 year olds, my new classroom, familiar books, dahlia flowers, crisp sheets, the wind in the trees, the scent of the fading summer, the sound of summer evenings, fresh-sliced tomatoes, cheerful wall decals, composition books, and the relaxation of a good workout. You can also find me at Twitter (@SassafrasMama) if you haven't already gotten enough of my nonsense.