Wild & Precious Life – End of Summer/Start of Autumn 2020

In Pagan traditions, August 1st is the celebration of the start of the harvest. It’s a time to remember that Autumn isn’t far off, even if you’re in the height of summer weather. This seems most appropriate in the Finger Lakes, as August seems to be all of that. We have the most inconsistent weather with the greatest variance, heat waves and cold fronts and storms and dry spells all in one. But it’s also squash season where you find at the end of nearly every driveway a table laden with zucchini, free for the taking, and the tomato harvest truly begins to take off.

The rest of our July felt truly like summer. Heat and sun, the earth becoming scorched around us as we settled into a deep drought. We were lucky enough to visit my parents for a weekend and have my father in law visit for another. It worked perfectly and seemed to be fate. We drove to my parents through a tropical storm, straight down the turnpike without stopping and not being able to see very well at all, but refusing to use any rest stops along the way to avoid outside interaction. Then, my father in law was leaving to go home the day that the New York governor (Cuomo) announced that those coming from the state of Virginia needed to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in New York. 

Our COVID numbers spiked as the summer continued and we entered the beginning of the harvest. Students returned to our college town and with it a rise in population. We were luckily able to have a small barbecue with two friends prior to their moving away. It’s unfortunate and sad that we finally befriended someone in this town, despite half of our time here being in a pandemic and the other half being without much energy to interact with locals as I was still healing from childbirth, and now those two people we befriended moved hours away. But the meal outside in the warm air was nice and memorable.

And still, the summer sun and heat persisted. We purchased Ryland a tiny inflatable pool, just his size that could be filled with a bucket. Rather than going to the too-filled-for-our-comfort pools and swimming holes in the area, he would splash about in this pool in front of our apartment. Then, we would creep off early on weekday mornings to a stream where there was swimming options and often find the location entirely to ourselves, but already the mornings were cooling off while the sun still felt hot.

Over the course of late spring and the entirety of summer, we had less than five days of full rain. We had a handful of quickly moving thunderstorms, one of which fried nearly our entire entertainment system, but overall we had nothing but bright sun and dry conditions. The lakes, streams, and waterfalls continued to get lower and lower and many began to dry up. Having begun going to the farm each week to pick up our CSA haul and hearing from the farmers and seeing what a drought does to the plants has caused us to talk about the weather more than we ever thought we would. It’s also made us all the more grateful for each rainy fall day we’ve had thus far.

The heat and sun also made it an adventure to preserve many of the items we received from the farm. I have made fruit preserves in the past, so that was simple and quick enough, and we have a lovely selection of raspberry and strawberry jam (although the strawberry jam is already running out). But I also dove into preserving pickles and beets. Then, towards the end of summer, I began the venture of boiling down paste tomatoes and making pasta sauce to be preserved. We hung a shelf in the kitchen and looking at the full jars on it makes me feel deeply satisfied. I hope one day we may own a house with a basement where I can build a shelf and fill it with these jars.

I had my first submission published in Bella Grace which was an honor and thrilling. I’ve loved this magazine for many years and to be in its pages was surreal. But seeing as it is 2020, it didn’t come without complications as my name was misprinted on the byline and credit given to another author. They sent me a corrected version of my article, as seen below, but you can also order a copy of the magazine here

It was the welcome push I needed to want to write and submit more. I also was able to meet a selection of lovely women who wrote in the magazine as well and through them, I’ve been introduced to more magazines that I may potentially submit to. It’s exciting, and gives me goals for next year–even if next year is a trash fire like this one.

Ryland had an eventful end of summer, although I feel at this age every half season is eventful for a rapidly developing child. He received his flu shot with shock followed by disgust given towards the nurse but no tears–something I wish I could say the same for me (no tears when I got my own flu shot, but I was in tears having to get him his). He also went through an evaluation to see if he needed aid in learning how to talk. The end result was that while he was a touch delayed, he exhibited all signs that he was heading right where he needed to be for vocal learning, and it seemed to be true. Following the evaluation he began to exhibit understanding in degrees we hadn’t seen before. Suddenly he was learning body parts, colors, and animals with ease. Now, he’s coming out with a new word almost daily (even if each word is only the start of the word, causing him to sound like he’s from Boston when he says “cah” for “car”).

He also dropped his second nap and adjusted to one and completed getting all his baby teeth other than his last two sets of molars. What a wild ride teething is and I’m glad we have a reprieve.

September arrived and it seemed as soon as we flipped the calendar, autumn arrived with it. We had a selection of non-humid days in August but they became more regular in September. With the lack of rain, our trees began to change early. We were able to apple pick early and relished in those local apples for a few weeks until they were eaten up. By the later half of September, we had our first frost (two weeks earlier than last year) followed by a heat wave, which sent our trees well into autumn glory. We’ve completed all our canning, and have transitioned our attention to winter preparation of the happy soul. I still wake early most mornings to have alone time, but now it’s done with a light therapy lamp. The sun doesn’t rise until well after 7 am and sets in the 6 pm hour. While I marvel at how early the sun rises and how late it sets in high summer, I also do for winter as I never lived anywhere where it gets dark out so early (and stays dark for so long). But all of this simply means that light therapy is essential, as well as vitamin D supplements. 

I’ve figured out some tentative craft projects I would like to accomplish this winter and have a stack of books I would like to read, and we have a pile of “school” books for Ryland to begin down the road. Simple things geared toward two year olds, of which he will be in February.

I’ve begun to bake again, as the cooler weather has made running a hot oven more ideal, and I’m excited to continue my exploration into traditional treats of the Scandinavian and Italian variety. 

Since October arrived, we’ve accomplished some minor and simple goals we’ve had for the autumn season. Family portraits, thanks to my iPhone and a tripod, and a visit to the Iron Kettle Farm where Ryland was able to see animals up close (to his utter delight). We hope to go pumpkin picking in the near future as well and for Halloween, we think we will dress up and wander the neighborhood to look at decorations. A few homes are planning ways to give out candy in a safe manner and we might attempt that, but it seems truly up in the air until the day of. I’m endlessly glad that Ryland is so small, he has no idea what a “normal” anything is yet. 

I’ll update again, hopefully before winter truly sets in. Have an enjoyable autumn, all.

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