a summer song

stray apples

They are coming to an end, the long summer days. Already you can see that the light has changed; it’s more honeyed. This morning we swam amid the repeated dives of a kingfisher, its rattle coming from a cedar bough, then the rocks further along the lake shore. Small dragonflies were darting across the surface of the lake, blue and blue and blue.

Yesterday I made the pies I planned to, three large ones using the Merton Beauty apples and some blueberries, and those went into the freezer for winter dinners. With the last of the apples, I made a galette, adding some of the blackberries we picked the other day. Not the Himalayans but the cutleaf evergreen berries, Rubus laciniatus, that ripen a little later here. They’re spicier somehow, and firmer. We had that galette last night, with enough left for dessert tonight. It tasted of autumn, not summer. Summer is peaches and cherries and green gooseberries and golden plums. This galette was rich and dark, flavoured with candied ginger.

A bear wandered out from under the crabapple tree yesterday morning and when it heard our voices, it loped away down the driveway. It will be back, I know, and it’s welcome to the crabs. They’re too high for us to pick. Later in the day, a deer was standing in the cool flag iris leaves under the crab, grateful for its shade.

The long summer days. The star-filled nights. The mornings I woke to a house filled with my family, the voices of my grandchildren in the kitchen as their parents made coffee, and then the sound of small feet on the stairs as they came up to join me in my bed. There’s a still a stack of their books on my bedside table: The Gruffalo, Anna’s Secret Friend, Long Ago in the Mountains, The Amazing Bone. We read those stories over and over.

I made a large batch of pesto this afternoon, some for the freezer (those winter dinners…) and some for tonight’s supper. I was humming “September Song” as I peeled the garlic, brought in from the strings where it dried in the woodshed, stripped the basil from its stems.

But the days grow short when you reach September
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
One hasn’t got time for the waiting game

It’s dark earlier these evenings. I was reading in bed last night and was surprised to see that it was only 8:00 and I needed to turn my lamp on. When you are in the middle of those long summer days, you can’t imagine them being over. When you are surrounded by the voices of your grandchildren, you can’t imagine the quiet after they leave.

Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few
September, November
And these few precious days I’ll spend with you
These precious days I’ll spend with you

apples on the stray

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