Sunday, August 17, 2008

August Heat

I like reading the police reports in the local newspaper because I so often find strange things there. The heat we've been having the past few days seems to really have caused some people to go crazy. How else can one explain, for example, the recent report "subject is throwing raw hamburger at passing cars"?

Raymond Chandler's short story Red Wind contains this passage

There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husband’s necks. Anything can happen.

I bet he wrote that on a hot day in August.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Blackberry Season

Nobody needs to pity the farmwife, however scratched and bedraggled she may look, coming out of the blackberry patch. She has got something more than blackberries from the time out there. There is no better place than the blackberry patch for that hour of solitude every farm woman craves now and then.
From Rural Free: A Farmwife's Alamanc of Country Living ~ Rachel Peden

This is probably one of the reasons why August is one of my favorite times of the year, despite the heat. There are times and places when I have an excuse to be outside, by myself, to think my own thoughts and dream my own dreams. Those are rare and special moments, even for women of a certain age who live in small towns.

Traveling to Work

I work about 20 miles away in a university town. The road I take to go to work follows the Willamette River which means it curves a lot but then, that makes it fun to drive even if one is not driving a little red sports car with a stick shift.

I go by Mennonite farms with their neat gardens, clotheslines, orchards, houses with wide front porches, a blueberry farm with row after row of bushes loaded with berries, and then through a little unincorporated town with its old church and its notorious speed trap. Yes, I remember to slow down.

I see flashes of the river as I drive and hawks hovering above grass seed fields on my right hunting for rodents and snakes and, on my left, others soaring over the river, looking for fish. The boat landing is often crowded with cars and yet I seldom see even a single boat on the river. If I'm lucky I'll see a blue heron or two standing in the fields.

And even better, it is exactly the same when I drive back home.


I have a big bouquet of sunflowers on my dining room table.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It's Really Summer

August has the smells and tastes that mean summer's finally here--sweet corn, tomatoes, green beans, cantaloupe, peppers, and cucumbers from the garden, blackberries, peaches and at the end of the month, apples and pears. There is so much it seems never ending. It makes me feel rich. It's the smell of the last of the raspberries coming to a rolling boil for jam at the beginning of the month and the pungent vinegar of bubbling kettles of bread and butter pickles ready to be canned at the end. It's walking by rose bushes lush with flowers with scents so sweet they can make me swoon.

Later in the month comes the county fair and then, at the end of the month, the state fair. There will be animal barns filled with cows lowing and chickens clucking. I love to look at the poultry, the sheep and goats, and the rabbits best. On the midway, there's the music from the merry go round, the happy sounds of those on the rides, the smell of hot dogs and popcorn. I enjoy the flower arrangements,
the baking (oh, those fancy decorated cakes!), and the quilts! I never miss the quilts!

The weather will be beautiful day after day with only a few days here and there that are a little cloudy or have some showers and some that seem too hot, but it will be so lovely for so long it can lull me into thinking it'll last forever.

Oh, there are a few clues summer is ending-- ads for sales for school clothes and supplies, but school won't actually start until after Labor Day so there's time yet. And one thing I've noticed about Oregon--we're always one month behind weather-wise. It's still cool and rainy in June and September is almost always warm and clear and the trees don't even think about changing color until mid-October. So enjoy summer while it's really here. It won't last long!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Post-It For Annotations

I use post-it notes for many things and one use I especially like is using it for is annotating library books. I often find sentences or pieces of sentences or even an entire paragraph I want to remember, but I don't want to jump up each time and type it into a Word document. Instead I place a small stack of Post-It notes on the inside front cover of the book and when I come across a great quote I just put one right where the quote begins. It doesn't slow up my reading. If I have a pencil handy I might add a few words about why I like it. When I'm done reading the book it's easy enough to transfer the quotes.

I do this for fiction as well as non-fiction, for books of projects and poetry books too.