Summer arrives this Thursday, as the day's reach peaks in its longest stretch for the year and slowly begins to recede toward autumn. The old-timers on the web pish-posh Thursday, knowing full-well that June 25 (next Monday) is the historical midsummer. It's time to figure out how to spend all of those extra hours of sunlight, since we're not engaged in the practice of sustainable agriculture and dragging hundreds of pounds of tomatoes into the kitchen to be canned.
Green Grow the Rushes
Okay, so we don't have 40 acres and a mule. I have, however, made the mistake of reading the enjoyable, informative and mouth-watering new book by Barbara Kingsolver. "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" tracks a year of local harvesting in her family's life -- eating with the seasons, using food harvested within 100 miles or so of their southwest Virginia home. We're not going to such extremes, but there are a number of small sustainable steps we'll take this summer, starting with our own 300-square-foot garden.
- We expect to pull in a steady stream of vegetables from our backyard this summer, and have already enjoyed a small boatload of radishes, lettuces, spinach and green beans. It looks like we'll be eating green beans for several more weeks, and the zucchini are beginning to produce. Just around the corner -- squash, two types of cucumber, six different heirloom tomato varietals and carrots. The peppers are running a bit late, and we hope to pull some beets and sweet potatoes from the dirt at the end of the summer. Nikole is very excited about her Thelma Sanders Squash.
- Now that Nikole is selling jewelry at the 17th Street Farmer's Market, I have expectations of Thursday evenings becoming a sort of harvest celebration -- unwrapping bundles of free-range eggs, local honey and exotic local produce.
- We're still in love with the Byrd House Market in Oregon Hill, and expect to spend at least a few Tuesday nights this summer browsing the local fare -- produce and eggs, fresh bread, crafts.
- Last year, we overextended ourselves at the Westmoreland Berry Farm. This year, we expect a repeat performance.
- Outside of what we eat, we both enjoy hanging out in the yard enjoying the explosion of color that our flower beds create week after week. During the spring, there was a lot of purple, pink and red emerging in the yard from roses and peonies and tulips and lilac. As summer arrives, the yard has turned yellow and orange, predominantly -- tickseed, daisies and mile after mile of daylilies (mostly the orange variety, but we have a wide range of pink, white, several shades of yellow and some deep red lilies from my father's yard).
On the Road Again and Again
To offset the good things we do on the food front, we will be on the road a bit this summer -- burning fossil fuels and contributing to global warming.
- We'll be spending a week at Nikole's grandfather's house in Deltaville this summer, engaged in a bit of familial indentured servitude. His house sits on the water, facing the Chesapeake Bay, the Rappahanock River and Broad Creek (depending on which window you're peering through) and was a bit battered several years ago by a series of storms. Nikole's brother and I have coordinated our schedules -- and invited a large handful of hard-working friends -- to rebuild the pier, pull out an old jetty, repair another old jetty and begin repairing a wall that keeps the back of the property from collapsing into the Stingray Point Marina.
- Our second week on the water will be a return to Cape Cod for another Cape Cod Institute workshop. Last year, I was mesmerized by and fell in love with Charlie and Edie Seashore; this year, I'll be studying at the feet of leadership guru Meg Wheatley. In between workshop sessions, Nikole and I will enjoy the Cape in slightly warmer weather -- August instead of early July.
- We're also hoping to get to West Virginia for a long weekend, although now that summer is here we may wait until the slightly cooler weather of September to head for the hills. It's been a while since we've been to our friends' cabin above Franklin, and we'll try to figure out the right combination of friends to invite along for the weekend.
- We've managed to not get down to Atlanta to visit Nikole's brother and his wife since they moved there last year, but are looking at a September trip to see their house and explore the bustling southern metropolis.
- We really want to see the gardens at Monticello, but suspect that -- like most places on the East Coast -- we'll enjoy them better after the heat and the summer tourist crowds vanish. So, a day-trip to Charlottesville is probably going to be a post-Labor Day excursion.
As always, I have quite the list of things I'd like to do this summer -- many of them things left undone from previous lists.
- Yoga classes with Kelly Trask. I had been such a dedicated student, regularly showing up week after week from the spring of 2000 until late 2005. Since then, I've been a relatively fickle yoga devotee and feel a strong need to get back into the rhythm of things.
- Modern dance classes with Starr Foster. My dance debut last October was more an exposure to dancers and an exercise in movement for me, and I'd like to explore a different way of getting connected to my body (and pulling muscles).
- Kayaking on the Chesapeake Bay. Before we start building a pier, I am heading to Mathews County's Bay Trail Outfitters for a kayak tour of Winter Harbor.
- Build a community weblog. Nikole and I have decided to launch the North Richmond News, a local weblog focused primarily on Lakeside, Ginter Park and Bellevue (and adjacent communities). Several of our neighborhood friends have expressed an interest in collaborating with us on this project, and the Johnny Appleseed of neighborhood blog's, John Murden, went gangbusters last week building the site.