Friday, June 8, 2007

Berry Hot Days of Summer

Spring has stepped aside and Summer has bullied it's way in! Whew! It's hot here and humid, too. I must admit though, it's nothing like it was in DC. My school years in DC were so hot, you'd melt the minute you stepped out, leaving the cold embrace of air-conditioned buildings. Beads of sweat would appear as if a crown of water was placed on your head. Another minute or two, the fabric under your armpits soaked through. A sheen of sweat would appear on your arms and legs, hair would stick to your neck and if there was any slight breeze, it wouldn't cool you, it just merely moved the hot air around.


Here in the lush, green mountains, it doesn't seem to get as humid. You can play outside and it would be an hour before you finally start feeling the effects of the hot sun beating upon your shoulders. With all the trees, you are able to stand under a leafy umbrella and instantly feel several degrees cooler, and you are tempted to sit at the base of a tree and watch the dappled sunlight dance with the shade. Of course, with the children, there is no chance of taking a catnap in the shade and I must constantly be on the lookout for where each child has run off to. We are surrounded by trees with maybe 2 acres of cleared land where our house sits and the garden area.


My mulberries are starting to ripen, and every morning, before it gets too hot, we go out and pick the dark purple berries. I have 3 trees, one on the back corner of the house, one by the far end of the driveway and another in the garden area. The garden tree is the largest, has the most berries and also the one where the birds like to frequent. I feel like I am in competition, who can get the most berries, the birds or the human! Most of the branches are high and I have to reach to grab the end and pull it down towards me, so I am able to pick the juicy mulberries. The girls want to help and I will pull a branch low enough for them to pick a few, but they all end up in their mouths instead of the bucket. I'll tell them to search the ground for fallen berries and that gives me time to concentrate on the berries in the tree. I'll check on the girls and I'll see a purple stain slowly spreading around their mouths and fingers.


After awhile, when most of the ripe berries are picked and the gnats are winning the battle, the girls start losing their interest, having filled their little bellies and start to complain about the heat. "It's hot, mommy. Can we have a popsicle?" At 9:30 in the morning, I let them have a popsicle. Before you think I am teaching them poor nutrition, they are JUICE pops, made from 100 % juice. It IS hot here, after all and the icy cold popsicles help cool away the heat, their squirming slows down and they are happy to lick away at a frozen treat.


We have escaped into the cool recesses of the house, and because of the towering trees around us, it is still cool in here. When it starts to feel warm, I turn on the ceiling fans, one in every room of the house and it is enough, the blades cutting the heat and tossing the air around and the rooms cool again. Only when the temperatures rise above 100 and the heat becomes oppressive, the humidity wrapping it's wet, sticky fingers around you, do we close all the windows and turn on the air-conditioner, "canned air", Hubby likes to say. At night, when temperatures dip and the air outside is cool, but the house still hugs the warm air, we turn on the attic fan, which draws the cool night air into the house and up through the vent, out into the darkness. Curtains will billow from the air being pulled inside and I like to stand by the sheers and feel their softness on my skin, the cool air smelling sweet with mountain flavors. You can smell the nectar of flowers and the pungent, sweet smell of the earth.


Ah! Summer, the season to do all things outdoors and then to laze in the cool shade, taking a brief respite from the heat. When it is too hot to do anything, when simply stepping outside makes you break into a sweat, life is telling you to slow down and take it easy. Those lazy, hazy days of summer...



9 comments:

Elsie Button said...

Beautifully written - wow! i feel quite envious that i am not there picking berries with you, and eating ice lollies in the wonderful weather! What do we get in england... a cold winters day one day, heatwave weather the next day, and so on. we get very confused us brits. do we wear hats and scarves, summer dresses, bikinis, thermals - we are certainly kept on our toes. it sounds idyllic where you are.

Drunk Mummy said...

It does sound lovely Jenny - but then it wouldn't take much these days to get me to head for the mountains!

jenny said...

Elsie-- You should have seen our latest winter! I thought it was summer time in the middle of December and perfect Fall weather in February... At least summer is consistent! We have a big spare room for you to come and visit if you every make it out this way! :o)

Drunk-- I'll see if I can rustle up a hillbilly and get some moonshine for ya. We'll knock 'em back together! whaddaya say?

Dana said...

I think I would be with the girls eating more berries than I put in the bucket!

jenny said...

Dana-- If you knew what my mulberry jam tasted like, every single berry would go in the bucket! Thanks for stopping by!

sufferingsummer said...

this post is written beautifully...Your description of DC summer heat put me right back in milwaukee, working as a waitress on a patio in that kind of heat (dressed all in black on top of it!) That I can do without thank you very much, then the berries, oh the berries...how I long to taste them right off the tree all juicy and sweet, but my favorite bit of lovely phrasing has got to be "Curtains will billow from the air being pulled inside and I like to stand by the sheers and feel their softness on my skin, the cool air smelling sweet with mountain flavors. You can smell the nectar of flowers and the pungent, sweet smell of the earth."
I was right there feeling like some mountain goddess drinking in my spoils...
thank you for such lovely words for me to end my evening on!

DJ Kirkby said...

Brought back memories of my dad's log cabin, no electricity out there but just beautiful scenery. I remember the humidity..like breathing through a wet towel!

lady macleod said...

Ah summer...the days to SIT VERY STILL so you don't die! Just kidding, it's not EVERY day. It is a lovely description and I can tell how much you enjoy your home and your family.

DJ Kirkby said...

Do you have Huckleberries in your part of the world? Delishious!