It is full summer here in Vermont, and the focus of everyday life has shifted outside. The promised, and much-needed, rain has held off and the morning is lovely, the sky a rich cerulean blue punctuated by thin white clouds. Last evening was one of those classically cool Vermont evenings, accompanied by a splendid sunset, which we found ourselves watching from our favorite creamee (the Vermont word for soft-serve ice cream) stand overlooking the lake. There we sat, and stood, along with a good many other people, cameras or phones in hand, snapping away. There was much merriment and a good deal of conversation between friends and strangers.
Earlier in the day my step-son, Robin, and I had visited “The Ramble” a venerable season institution in one of Burlington’s most ethnically diverse neighborhoods. The Ramble is just that, an invitation to walk or bike through our Old North End neighborhood, stopping to shop, look at art, eat, or play. The real action, though, takes place on Decatur street, a mere one block long, where the neighbors go all out to provide entertainment for all. They even provided free, delicious, wholesome food, partially created by an assembly line of deviled egg makers! Our friend and fellow artist, Jeanie Waltz, seems to have inspired the event, and works diligently to keep it going, along with a large cohort of other creative types. When we last saw her last night, she was going strong but finding it impossible to stifle that first deeply fatigued yawn.
A couple of weeks ago we lost one of the driving forces in The Ramble and in the Burlington arts community. The community is still grieving, and The Ramble was the site of memorials to her. She loved glitter and glitter adorned numerous participants. She was a fine musician and visual artist, and there were songs sung and memorials constructed to her. Although the event was joyous, as she would have undoubtedly wished, there was a sad current running through it.
Sometime during the night the humidity increased and I found myself struggling to find a comfortable body temperature. This is often a challenge as Polio left me unable to easily regulate my bodily thermostat. Thus I toss and turn, throw off the duvet, draw it back up, then toss it off again, my quirky body confused by the humidity. This went on much of the night and this morning I find myself already looking forward to a nap.
Increased humidity often portends rain, and we are hopeful rain will come. We are a few inches below our average precipitation for the year, not quite in drought, although the folks a couple of hours south of us are. Still, it is dry and the berries are trending small and a bit bitter. We’ve had to water the garden on a regular basis, which the birds seem to appreciate, chatting merrily as the sprinkler moves slowly back and forth across the vegetables. We hope the rains come early and hang on for a while, replenishing the soil and raising the water table before the freeze sets in.
Speaking of freezes, we seem to be down to our last bag of last year’s frozen blueberries, so are considering taking time later in the day to visit a local grower and pick a few quarts. I suspect it would be considerably less expensive to just buy them pre-frozen at the grocery as we need them, but picking our own assures that we will have berries with minimal exposure to pesticides. We’ll also have stories and memories to share along with the berries, as well as those invaluable connections to family traditions and a more immediate, grateful connection to the land.
Picking blueberries seems to me to be a lovely way to pass a Sunday afternoon at the end of July. Tomorrow we enter August; in a couple of weeks we’ll begin to notice the weather cooling as Vermont moves ever so slowly towards winter. The cooling will be fitful at best; some years our warmest weather in occurs in August and September. If we’re luck a tropical storm or two will bring just enough much welcome rain, in these traditionally dry months, filling streams and wells and assuring water for the winter.
In the past twenty or so years climate change has brought increasing uncertainty to our local climate, along with a growing unease and the realization that the seasonal round is not what it was, and concern about what it may be in the future. For today though, we are in full Vermont summer, and loving it.