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Breathing in the last of summer's magic

Jun 25, 2023Jun 25, 2023

It’s hard not to get nostalgic this time of year. Beneath the high heat, there’s something new lingering on the edges. The back-to-school vibes abound. The earth still smells of baking bread at midday, but now the fields carry the unmistakable scent of curing leaves. This summer has been unusually wet, so there’s more green grass than I ever remember seeing at the end of August, and still autumn beckons beneath the warmth and the damp green.

The kids and I have temporarily moved out to the tiny house in our windbreak. It doesn’t have running water and is basically only big enough to fit our bedding, but it is surrounded on all sides by tall, swishing grasses, and the soft brushes of elm and ash trees. At night we fall asleep to their lullaby through the screen windows, the crickets and the inevitable far-off lowing of cattle the only accompaniment.

When we first started dragging the bedding out, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing. It seemed like a lot of work for no apparent reason when there was a lot of work (namely canning and pickling) that actually needed to be done. But now that we’ve spent a few nights there, I get it. Because our house doesn’t have central air conditioning, we keep the upstairs bedrooms closed off and curtains drawn during the day. Even during the cool of evening, the small windows don’t provide enough cross ventilation, so we use fans and a window air conditioning unit to make it tolerable for sleeping. It’s dark and cave-like, the whirl of machines a not unpleasant white noise, but as winter approaches, I’m craving all the fresh, open-air feelings I can find. In the tiny house at night, we hear all the noises and smell all the smells we will be shutting our windows to soon enough.

So this week I’m going to offer you a short poem in lieu of a traditional column, in hopes that it inspires you to breathe in the last of summer’s magic before we get swept up into all that comes next….

Woodsmoke or

fog, which is it?

ghosting around an

old barn that still charms.

Breakfast in the first kitchen,

water from a deep well

on the edge of mountains

on the edge of forests

on the edge of prairies.

The first light

The last light

The cool air on your shoulders

The warm dirt at your feet

on the edge of mountains

on the edge of forests

on the edge of prairies.

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