Monday, July 6, 2009

Sweet Summer

Summer is finally here in every way... outdoor parties with family and friends, blueberry picking, sunburns, trips to the beach, the fruits of garden labor, summer evenings, lightning bugs, mosquito bites, fresh foods, live outdoor music, and more. As always, there are many things to do as we work to improve our home and lives, but summertime fun is the sweet reward for completing big projects!

It seems every year around this time I rediscover fresh, local warm-weather produce and my love of cooking; this year is no different. I’ve recently been inspired to try some new recipes, such as a no-knead bread and homemade butter. They are shamefully easy and there's nothing like a simple, delicious, and flavorful meal that has been made completely from scratch with fresh ingredients. It's soul food without a doubt. Up next: experiment with sprouting and discover what this area has to offer in local grains. Perhaps a 30 day Eat Local Challenge is on the horizon.

It seems all of my senses have been awakened after a cold winter and soggy spring. In addition to the flavors of summer, I’ve been sinking my fingers into the rich soil; lavishing in the sounds of buzzing bees, bird songs, frog chips, and fox calls; watching all the trees, shrubs, and flowers take turns presenting their unique qualities; while the scents of evolving blooms waft through the warm air. Even dirty hands and feet, the periodic itchy reaction to foe insects and poisonous plants, skunk spray, and fresh manure find their welcome role during this time.

Since moving from Baltimore to rural Pennsylvania two years ago (and starting this blog), seasons tend to affect me much more. We are not nestled inside, isolated from the elements, staring through insulated panes of glass at the outside world of fluffy white layers of snow or steaming summertime pavement. Instead, we trek through snow and rain to retrieve firewood, our main source of heat, and are well on our way to relying on the garden to sustain our bodies.

This is a conscious decision we've made to live life not easier, but more simply, and to be more in tuned with ourselves and the world around us. It's not an easy lifestyle, but a labor of love, and we are continually presented with the rewards of our hard work. In addition to feeling good about our decisions, we've cut our annual reliance on heating oil down by more than half, are working to maximize the yield from our garden in order to spend less at the grocery store, while entertaining other ways of saving $$ and reducing our carbon footprint.

My creative juices are also grateful for this way of life and for the summertime season. The daily patterns, forms, textures, and colors I encounter dance through my head and beg to be reinterpreted on paper, fabric, and in metal. I hope to share some of these projects with you, as I have been producing on a limited basis. Nevertheless, as you can imagine, the squeaky wheel gets the grease during this season of fun, flux, and abundance!

I hope you are enjoying all there is to partake in this summer!


Valerie A. Heck said...

You make summer sound so wonderful! (which it is). Hope all is well with you!

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