These past two weeks, I have watched summer plans vanish in a column of smoke. Or three columns, to be more precise. Twenty miles to the northwest, the Reading Fire sprawls across forty square miles in Lassen Volcanic National Park and the Lassen National Forest. Thirteen miles to the southwest, the massive Chips fire (at nearly 70 square miles) presses toward Lake Almanor and is the source of thick, choking smoke. The Mill Fire, thirty miles west, above Mill Creek, is not sending smoke our way, but does have the unfortunate effect of drawing my husband into 16-hour days away from home. Occasional clear mornings feel like a gift, a brief respite, but by late afternoon charred pine needles again sift down from the sky. Field season is over, camping plans postponed, trips to the lake not an option. We hunker down inside, but can’t help ourselves from flinging the windows wide open when the heat becomes too stifling.
Category Archives: Summer
Every year I envision raspberry crisps, raspberry cobblers, and frozen berries in the middle of winter. But the reality is that our raspberries are plucked and consumed just as soon as they ripen. Who can resist? M. is learning to tell the ripe from the not, and the adolescent robins have reappeared to feast as well.
We started our raspberry crop with twenty-five bare-root canes of Nova berries in 2008. Just a handful of berries that year, but additional vegetative canes (primocanes) established. In 2009, the previous year’s leafy canes became floricanes, flowering and setting fruit, with new vegetative canes filling in the beds. Now we have hundreds of canes in our beds, but still, there are never enough raspberries!
When temperatures pushed into the 90’s last weekend, we loaded the girls in the bike trailer, crossed the highway, and bumped over dirt road to Robbers’ Creek. Abundant snowfall and late snowmelt have converged to create this little pool of bliss not five minutes from our home. My first dip in this childhood haunt of my husband’s. Perfect wading for the girls, a small waterfall among the rocks, tiger lilies and Douglas’ spirea in bloom on the shores.
A moment to pause on Solstice Eve. Babes asleep. Twilight encroaching. A rare moment to reflect instead of merely react. Life is . . . full. As full as the days are long. Full in the very best and the very worst sense of the word. Full of spontaneous twirling, belly laughs, toddler non sequiters, story times, shared awe at our growing girls. And A.’s magical debut into the wide world of words (first phrase, sadly, was “Sister Hurt,” meaning, “Help me. I have been egregiously wronged by my older sibling.”) Life is full, also, of harried schedules, rushed breakfasts, that feeling of having a million irons in the fire with not enough time or focus to make progress on any one endeavor. Solstice wishes for a summer ripe with pauses.
Our first ‘summer’ weekend. Miss M. stayed in full fairy regalia for three days, leaping and twirling her way into the season. She was desperate to fly and here she is hoping that a running start will give her lift-off. We discussed birds and hollow bones and how the weight of her one body equals that of 150 robins.
M. spread her wings in so many ways this weekend. She is seeking the limits of her toddler limbs, treading that fine line between courage and folly. M. balanced upon then walked the rim our our raised beds. Mastered the crossing of the stile. Made slides out of bags of topsoil. Swung a little higher in the hammock. Turned somersaults in the grass.