My husband and I took a one night get away out to Verona. We call these kind of miniature vacations a mini-moon. They don’t have to be romantic, they just need to be someplace else. There is a little hotel out there that has a waffle iron as part of its continental breakfast. Its the reason we pick that hotel. So our one night away was a warm humid night, it had rained previously, so everything was wet and glistening in the street lamps. Walking back to our room, across the parking, lot in an unmown grassy area were hundreds of jazzy fireflies putting on a dazzling show. We stopped and watched caught up in the magic of their tiny willow-the-wisp yellow green dancing lights (until the mosquitoes found us). Summer splendor! Mini-moon magic!
After dinner, with more than an hour before sunset, and few hours before darkness, we load the canoe and drive to Colgate Lake. It has been a few years since my husband and I have been in our wedding canoe together, but this is a perfect opportunity. Summer solstice, longest day of the year! We carry the boat to the water, hop in, and gently paddle away into the sunset. It is slightly breezy on the quite lake as we paddle out to the middle where I turn around in my seat so we are facing each other. We float and talk, listen to the birds, insects, and frogs, look for fish and turtles, and watch the glowing yellow sun slowly descend through a cloudless pale blue sky behind the western ridge line. We are on the far side of the lake, now where sunlight still touches the water, back where we started is in the first evening shadow. Peaceful, and tranquil, we paddle back across the lake. As we are loading the canoe back on the car for the short drive home and white tailed deer bounds across the path, enters the trees, then turns to watch us a while before walking into the grassy field on the other side of the trees. A perfect Solstice paddle for the first day of summer!
Our two mile walk up the road and back, slow, leisurely. Arm in arm, I eagerly show him all the spring wonders I found on my last walk this way, all sorts of flowers and plants starting to show themselves. We see an oriel wing by, a flash of orange and black. We hear a plethora of various unidentified birds call and trilling in the trees. Life is peaceful walking here, a calm settled happiness infuses my being. We talk quietly of little things as we meander along the road, timeless and tranquil in the shadows of a spring green evening.
One of my favorite (usually) morning meals is something I never heard of until I was dating the man I eventually married. Matzo Brei is matzo crackers dipped in cold water, broken into bite size pieces and cooked into scrambled eggs. Its and after Passover meal to use up the leftover matzo. Traditionally, people put sweet stuff on it like jelly, but I like with hot sauce! As Passover approaches, matzo goes on sale, and eventually a case of it comes home. I start asking for Matzo Brei. Maybe it’s because I love scrambled eggs, or maybe it’s because I love my husband’s cooking, or because we have fun morning time together cooking and eating it, or maybe it has become a spring tradition for me. When Matzo Brei shows up it means winter is almost over and everything will be green and sunny and warm again soon. Whatever the case, serve it up, and eat it with joy!
Standing with my husband in the road, I had walked him down to the edge of the property to show him the lilac buds I have been watching slowly grow. It’s mid morning, but grey and cool. More rain in the forecast. We are talking, and ambling back toward the house when we hear a hoarse crowing croaking noise. In tandem we look up and together see two very large dark birds flapping just above the tree tops over the creek. The circle closer, the slightly larger one banks and its white tail fans out, close enough to see the individual feathers, then I see its white head. “Bald Eagles!” I cry out, excitement surging through my veins. The slightly smaller one dips down, totters on air currents, and glides over us, its underside blotchy juvenile coloring readily apparent. How spectacular to see an adult and an immature bald eagle so close! We watch them circle out over the creek for many long minutes. They climb higher and start circling over the hillside too, ever enlarging circles, lazily flying and gliding higher and farther away. We watch until they are nothing but unidentifiable dark specks against the grey sky.
My husband and I were doing regular normal things that people do at home after work. The sun was setting over the western ridge across the hollow just as it does every evening. I happened to glance out the window and saw reflected in the car window pink and orange puffy clouds. I called out to Jonathan that a pretty sunset was happening and stepped outside on to the porch to watch. I often do this, because I enjoy Mother Nature’s magic show. I was settling into one of the rocking chairs when he came out too. We sat together, side by side, rocking gently on the chilly evening air, quietly watching the spectacular display of long sun beams stretching through cumulus and cirrus clouds throwing bright colors all over the sky. The sun dipped below the horizon, the colors grew fiercely intense, as if you could feel them , breath them in, and become a million incandescent shades of red and orange. A minute later the specter was all but gone! Blue grey sky, grey clouds, cold night creeping in. Smiling and peaceful we went back inside. Sharing this sunset together was the joyous highlight of our day!
One of the sweetest rituals of early spring/ late winter is maple sugaring. My husband and I met 18 years ago in a sugar house at an environmental education camp where I used to work, and we gave out local maple syrup at our wedding. Every year we tap a few trees on our small hill, and every afternoon we climb the hill to collect and carry the sap in 5 gallon buckets down to the porch where it boils in a lobster pot on a propane turkey fryer. One of the most wonderful sounds while collecting the sap happens just after emptying the small metal sap bucket and hooking it back on the spile. On a warm day following a freezing night the sap runs clear, strong, and steady. One drip at a time, falling from the end of the spile, rhythmically hitting the bottom of the bucket. Ping, ping, ping, ping. When you stand in the middle of 10 bare sugar maple trees that have just had their sap buckets emptied, there is faintly audible delicious chorus, filling the air with mesmerizing metallic music, tantalizing the ears, and exciting the taste buds. Ponk, ponk, ponk/ pling, pling, pling/ doink, doink, doink/ plunk…, plunk…, plunk…/ pank…, pank…, pank… Surrounded by dripping sap that will soon be homemade maple syrup: amber, sticky, naturally sweet. Perfect!