I am sure that at this moment, we all have one thing taking up residence in our minds, filling in all the spaces between our many other thoughts, unavoidably resurfacing in the front again and again. And what could so ubiquitously bring us together in such grand collective consciousness besides the weather: it is hot! Not just hot, I guess, but HOT…at least hotter than we are used to; and really, hot for most everyone, except for those folks in the desert areas, where HOT, from my recollection, could be closer to 120 degrees than 100. That is the kind of heat that makes you sure your dog is going to die as you travel through. But still, heat is heat, and although I am not worried too much about the animals here, we do have to give them extra attention during these high temperatures. Salt nibbles out of hand for the goats, fresh mud baths for the pigs…the dog, with her furry coat, just digs into the cool ground and lays under the porch.
We, too, are pretty bothered and hot, feeling yet again the affects of poor insulation in an old manufactured home and not a lick of shade to protect the house on the south and west. The icing on the cake of this less than ideal scenario is that the west wall of the house is all windows, of course, so that the house dwellers can enjoy the wonderful view. Add to the pot a scant amount of opening window space and none of them set up for providing cross ventilation, and you have a recipe for an oven of a home. Still, as much as we curse poor house designs, we are never really ones to dwell on the back side of the hill. We aren’t really even all that bothered, just hot.
So, in this vein, I have been stewing a list of all the really great things about this heat, some jewels for us all to remember as we work and play and try to get some sleep in these next few really hot days, and the only somewhat less hot days to come. It is summer after all, and like any other season, it’ll come and go sooner than later. Every minute we have the opportunity to gain a memory to hold onto as things change, constantly change, and move forward, faster than I ever could have imagined as a child.
Top on our list of happy thoughts are that the plants love, love, love this heat. Granted, they were regularly well watered to this point, so that isn’t a consideration or worry for us or them. Instead, they have a lushness, a green, and a vibrancy this week that is just different. Not that they didn’t look beautiful before, and not that plants don’t thrive under our normally less than extreme summer temperatures, but I have a comparison point. After moving here from the hot summers of the Midwest, I haven’t really seen this kind of summertime boom in our garden. Really, it has more to do with the night temperatures than the day, and having this little heat wave, with nights barely dropping below 70 degrees…ooh la la! Plants primarily grow at night, using up the daytime to feed themselves via photosynthesizing. The summer plants love for the heat to remain through the night, and grow they are. This is something we will all benefit from! And although we won’t see it in this week’s harvest, we have harvested the first red tomato, a beautiful striped roma, and surprise of all surprises (for us anyways, since eggplant usually are the last summer crop to ripen for us) a single, gorgeous eggplant. The banana peppers, almost ripe!
Another thing we are thankful for…getting to take the afternoons off! What else can we do really? It is unbearable to continue field work, and unbearable to stay in our home (per the reasons mentioned above). And so we head out with drinking water and sun hats and find a place to get wet! And because it so very hot, we don’t even have to get into the water in that slow and cautious gingerly manner, we can run and jump right in! And when we do, the water, even in the creeks, is warm or cool, not freezing cold! It feels so good, better than any regular mid-temperature summer swimming could. And if
you are young enough or can get away at night, we actually have fit weather for night swimming! To swim on a hot summer’s night with the stars overhead…..lovely!
And as we hope to experience ourselves today, the heat we have here hasn’t left the Oregon coast cool and windy, but nice and warm, warm enough to let that cold ocean water scent your skin with its sweet saltiness even if you’re an adult. The smell of summer’s flowers lingers in this hot air, and maybe if you have a little child she will go out into the tomato patch and when you pick her up, she will smell just like tomatoes so you will squeezer her tight, the smell of a summer garden! And you will crave vegetables even more than you normally do! At least that is us, with scant an appetite
by dinnertime because of this heat, fresh vegetables are the perfect food. Cucumbers, zucchini or white Lebanese squash, cabbages, and steamed beets or blanched green beans all make simple and elegant vegetable salads with not much more than a nice vinegar and a quality olive oil, some fresh herbs, sweet cipollini onions or tasty scallions, and some local walnuts or hazelnuts or delicious artisan cheese for a little bit of protein. And after the 100 degree days simmer down to the mid-90’s, we are back to perfect outdoor grill dining, and nothing tastes like summer more than grilled vegetables!
So, dwell with us, in these joys of summer, heat and all. As I know I write about again and again, our lives are tied to the seasons with such intricately weaved strands that intersect with every little aspect of our lives here on the farm. I was always one for the seasons, they were so distinct where I grew up. By letting ourselves fully submerge into what makes each one unique, by creating and maintaining associations and memories, activities and foods for each one, it makes there coming and going all the more dear, and provides us with the beautifully complimentary pull of sweet and bittersweet,
loving and longing, for each in its own way, to accompany us through the days.