Summer is winding down on the pacific north west, the temperature is cooling, the rains are upon us. I have to confess that while I love the summer heat- and we did have record breaking heat this summer- the warm clear early mornings, and warm sultry nights, I do embrace the transition into Fall. The air becomes richer, especially the petrichor, the rich mineral, earthy smells that come after a rain. I love the cool breezes that coax the leaves from their branches, the changeable weather, the big dramatic clouds, the slanting afternoon light.
I was born in California where the season’s transitions went unheralded, traditional celebration dates like Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter were indistinct, weather wise. The sky was blue, the air warm. Well, maybe a little cooler in December, but leaves stayed on the trees, and flowers continued to bloom. I remember going with my parents to buy our Christmas tree. It was always in the evening and lights were strung around the fenced concrete lot that was filled with fresh cut trees. Walking into it was like entering a forest, and the smell was absolute heaven. This is the only time I had actually smelled a tree, and it was intoxicating. When I moved with my family to Canada at age fifteen into rural Mill Bay on Vancouver Island I had no trouble adjusting from big city Huntington Beach to life in the woods. I fell in love with the new surroundings, the variety of flora and fauna, the deep lushness of green, the smell of soil, of sea and stone, and especially the changing of the seasons. I experienced my first actual Autumn, then a real winter with snow. Instead of buying a Christmas tree in a parking lot, I trudged through acres covered in snow with a boyfriend to cut the perfect tree down. I ice skated on a flooded field under a full moon and brilliant stars with my new schoolmates. It was off the charts exhilaration to me. But I digress.
I did thoroughly enjoy our heat wave this summer- brought back California days for me- and I set up a spot outside to work under the dappled shade of a sumac tree next to my studio door. I brought my pottery and underglazes out to a low wooden table, put on a straw hat, some great music and immersed into hours of painting mugs and bowls. Then I packed them all up and dropped them at my neighbour K’s studio for their first firing. Yesterday I went to her studio to help unload the four shelves my pieces took up in her kiln. While unloading, K said she is listing her house of twenty years and moving off the island in a couple of months. Funny thing is I had a premonition she might when I bought my new wheel. I remember thinking at the time how I’m making a commitment to ceramics by acquiring this new wheel and then thinking, this would be the time my potting neighbour moves away, taking her kiln with her. What would I do then? I’m in no position to purchase that piece of equipment at this time.
Fortunately there is a ceramic studio, just opened three years ago, downtown -across the water for me- that welcomes drop-in’s, and also work done from private home studios to be brought in and fired for a reasonable fee that includes the use of their glazes. So instead of packing up my pottery in the wheel barrow to take down the road to my neighbours kiln, I’ll be packing it in the wheel barrow and then down to my boat, and then across the water, then pack it up to the car to drive to the studio. Ah, such is the paradise of island life. I have already signed up for an under glazing workshop there in November, so I’ll get a better idea and more information then, but I think it can work out just fine.
Also this summer I celebrated a thirty year anniversary of married life with Bob. Our big date for this milestone was to check out the newly built Malahat Skywalk. It didn’t disappoint, the view was great, just that it’s a view we see every time we drive to and from Victoria from other lookouts on the Malahat. But it’s the construction of the tower that’s an architectural marvel. Next visit I will go down the slide. On the way back up island we stopped in Duncan for a pint and a plate of Calamari. Generally it was a relaxed and simple acknowledgment of years together that shaped into an easy perfect day for us.
My vegetable garden became a garden of volunteers this summer. I planted nine tomato starts, but had many, many other tomato plants spring up all over my garden, seeds from our compost we dug in to the soil in early spring. I decided to allow them to grow where they sprung, which was a crazy, chaotic way to grow a garden. They came up in the bean row, in with the chards and kale, the snow peas. They came up among the several squashes that also were volunteers. Namely pumpkins. The funny thing is I planted pumpkin last year and nothing came of them- this year four beauties, along with little golden pumpkins. The unexpected bonus volunteer that popped up this summer was an avocado. Two in fact! I spied a vaguely familiar stem with long leaves growing near the pumpkins. I dug down and bingo, a split avocado at the root. I have tried countless times with a seed, and the cup of water, and the toothpicks, to start an avocado in the kitchen window. Never successful. So I dug them out and put them in black pots to baby inside over the winter. Look at that two toned squash, beautiful !
Enjoy the seasonal change, get cozy, make cocoa. Cheers to you ~
and Cheers to us !