For several weeks I have been meaning to write a bit of nonsense regarding the month of August. I even took several photos I hoped would be worth sharing. Unfortunately, while August is a month I am increasingly enamored with as I age, it is also a month that seems to stretch out hazily and languidly for days on end at the very beginning and somewhere toward the middle starts slipping by like quicksilver rolling along a kitchen floor after one has dropped and shattered the old-fashioned candy thermometer. Not that I have ever done that.
This summer nearly past, the work of the garden was pretty much done by August, except for the harvesting which is currently thinning daily. Now mostly I am gathering in the last of the green beans and a few tomatoes, very soon a few pumpkins, and seeds. Lots of seeds. Cilantro, Italian parsley, basil, dill, lettuces and broccoli. There will still be a few stalks of broccoli to gather before the hard frost kills them. And as soon as the complicated tangle of squash and bean vines interspersed with corn stalks dies off, I will be able to get to the last of the dragon’s tongue and tiger eye beans.
In August, however, nearly every other day handfuls of green beans were ready to pick, blanch and freeze. Almost daily tomatoes were reddening. I would circle their bed, letting them drop ripe into my hand before turning to the green beans, then lifting the cage off the strawberries in the next bed to pick what was ready of those and as I returned to the house, basket and arms full of tomatoes, beans and strawberries, I would find another handful of tomatoes had ripened to red in the few minutes I had turned my back to them. Only in August.
We were away for the first ten days of July and so missed our opportunity to remove the meant-to-be-temporary fencing from around the bed that housed the pumpkins, squash, corn and beans. By the time we returned the squash and pumpkin vines were clinging to its wiring, growing up over it and through it. One wayward vine went up over, around the end of the bed and in through the fencing that keeps rabbits out of the lettuces in the neighboring bed. Clambering through their prickly leaves to reach the bean trellises has been a tricky endeavor.
In August I am refreshed from whatever vacationing we have done. I feel like I can finally catch up on tasks that have been left undone since May or June when everything seems to spin out of control as everything tends to do near the end of the school year, when there is no time to accomplish much of my own stuff. And I do. I sit outside and knit. I drink coffee on the patio in the morning when the weather allows, before the sun is too high and hot, and I read. When it rains I bake. I visit farmers’ markets. I persuade my family to go blueberry-picking. I put by food for winter like a squirrel anxiously readying for an apocalypse.
Very soon I will be pulling up most of the annuals, thinning back the perennials, uprooting most of what remains In the vegetable beds, and bringing in the trellises and cages for the winter. We have a grand plan for digging up most of the back lawn and adding nine new beds to our current three this fall. It will require a chunk of cash and a lot of work to get it all done, but I think we will benefit from the added food-growing space, both in the work of sowing and in the joy of reaping. To say nothing of having less lawn to worry over and mow. I am looking forward to growing more good food next summer, and another August!