My favorite season (I say that about the other three, too) is now greeting me with darkness when I roll out of bed around 5 am. The light of summer’s pendulum is stealing away minutes each day, and I am resigned to sip coffee on the porch in the dark or in my captain’s chair at the kitchen table, and respond to my rooster’s bracing crow with a more gentlemanly rejoinder of “Good morning Clive, I trust you slept well?” (Yes, my rooster’s name is Clive; he’s British.)
I wish not to dance through a laundry list of how busy I’ve been this summer (everyone’s busy), but rather just share some of the surprises and delights of these balmy days—the picture postcards of what makes summer special to me from harvesting fruit (from trees I’ve babied all year), to taking a break on the hammock with my favorite wingman Buddy, to surprising a friend with a slice of pie. It’s been a summer of out-of-town visitors and casual dropins, quick cooling dips in the Puget Sound, and dry conditions of which I’ve never seen the likes. As Mother Nature ushers away the remaining days of satisfying warmth and gilded light, I thank her for the memories I’ll tuck away, and the images I’ll revisit on my chilly mornings and drizzly days of winter.
Checking in With My Master and Commander
Buddy follows the sun. Lucky for him (and me), my old farmhouse boasts four porches, each perfectly position to offer sun, shade or a dapple of each. He starts on the east porch, warms up with direct rays on the fir floorboards, then retires to the bathroom’s cold tile when his breathing reaches the decibel level of a cement mixer. Once cool, he relocates to the nearest, most promising sunny patch and goes in for the Buddy splay, a canine contortionist’s way of finding comfort in the resting form of a spatchedcocked chicken. In the photo above, Buddy is blocking the back porch doorway, extorting butt rubs and ear scratches for passage, and below, he’s relishing the cool concrete of Snapdragon Cafe’s floor.
In the Orchard
My orchard trees seem to grow at a glacial pace, perhaps because the trees are planted in glacial silt deposited an ice age ago or perhaps because their roots are the preferred snack of an epic vole population. Add to that my need to hand water, and I’m happy to get any fruit at all. The good news is each year the harvests do get better and better.
I’ve planted new peach trees (Snow Queen, Polly, Peregrine) in the greenhouse for a kinder, gentler weather experience, and it seems to be paying off. Nanaimo peach, a reliable producer, is the only curl-leaf-resistant variety tough enough to withstand eight months of rain. The peaches are sweet as can be, more so than another popular variety around here: Frost peach.
This year my plums— plump, juicy and abundant— are making me proud. Standout varieties include, Mirabelle, Green Gage, Yellow Egg, Castleton and Flavor Grenade. Apples are a month out from harvesting, but so far it looks like Belle de Boskoop, Jonagold, Liberty, Macoun and Beni Shogun Fuji are the stars performers this year. My top raspberries go to Tulameen and Tulamagic.
Dahlias Under Cover
I grow dahlias under the protection of a high tunnel hoop house, basically a quonset-hut-shaped structure covered in plastic to protect the tender tubers and showstopper flowers. I am horrible with their names, but good with taking snapshots of these beauties.
Taking a Dip!
I overheat pretty easily, so most warm days I schedule a high-tide visit to a local beach. Dockton Park is my first choice as the long narrow harbor warms up quite nicely (a toasty 65° F) with each incoming tide. Point Heyer (sandy KVI Beach) is another lovely choice, but the water temps remain a bracing 56° because of currents and water depth.
I make a lot of pies in the summer, and peach pie is my penultimate pastry prize. It is unequivocally my favorite pie. I’ll let the photos do the talking, or lip smacking as the case may be.
Thanks for dropping by, and I hope your summer was one of fond memories and a little down time to read a good book, or enjoy a stroll on the beach.