Friday afternoon when I was finished with my paid employment, I wandered outside and down the road to the lake. Our house sits on eight acres but we border a large tract of undeveloped land to the west of us and to the south we have permission to walk through another piece of land to a public lake. Our house feels even more remote than it is. It’s a pleasant walk, you just have to mind the prairie dog holes so you don’t twist or break an ankle. It’s harder now to see the holes because the ground is carpeted with low growing weeds. The blossoms look suspiciously like bind weed flowers but the foliage the blossoms nestle against are nothing like the ivy leaves of that particular garden nuisance. Two garden nuisances will be enough if I do garden next year. I see raised beds, wire mesh under the dirt, and chicken wire in my future. It will be necessary to create a fortress around my herbs, vegetables, roses and flowers.
It’s not as if we are without flowers here; while I was walking I found lupine, verbena, larkspur, a daisy sort of thing, white poppies, and fluffy yellow things which mimic Red Hot pokers. I gathered them like a naughty six year old. I love the carpet of flowers our field is made have: white, fuchsia, baby pink, and wee purple blossoms. They are soft and delicate feeling when I scrunch my bear toes into them.
I like to walk in the deep buffalo grass—snakes be damned—on the approach to the lake. The snapping buzz of dragonflies and grasshoppers sounds like summer to me. We are graced with honeybees and I like to hear their random buzz, too. It’s a beautiful reminder these fields are healthy.
My walk Friday was mostly solitary, as one man and one dog have left for months to care for their other home across the country. Gracie, the other dog in my life, is tentative with me even after all these months. No matter how much I have tried to charm (aka bribe) her she isn’t terribly cuddly. But Friday she joined me for a walk. It was a rare and sweet thing to watch her dart around me. Our walk was companionable and quiet; I didn’t need to call her back to me because she never ventured far.
I promised myself that afternoon I would make a walk at day’s end the next day, Solstice. I love Solstice almost as much as I do my birthday. It’s the longest day of the year and signifies summer really has arrived. No joke. This is not a parlor trick played on us by Gaia like a warm day in April. Our spring was mild and wet. We didn’t have any lunatic May snow storms but we had plenty of rain. A nice hint our summer will be glorious and mild.
My solstice was peaceful and quiet. The other man I share the house with (The Man of the House’s brother) was off on an adventure in the backcountry at a cabin and he took Gracie with him. I hadn’t been alone in the house for such a stretch of time since before I lived here last January when I scrubbed and prepared for The Man of the House’s return from his other home.
It was cold and windy that January weekend. The wind howled and rattled around the house and I wondered just what winters would be like, dark by five and light not reappearing in earnest until nearly seven the next morning. I was too busy to be lonely that weekend. I was too tired and grubby to be lonely that weekend. But I did stop each of those three nights and witness the sunset.
Sunsets became an event for me this winter and spring. I would stop what I was doing, almost every evening, and call The Man and Brother to the window. The sweep of yellow, gold, lavender, orange, red, deep blue served as each day’s epilogue. The Man of the House exclaiming how each one was different and each made just for us. The idea of this warmed me like an August afternoon.
The solstice light had been mostly flat and gray but never any rain. I wasn’t expecting the sunset to be anything but anticlimactic and I was disappointed about this. I had spent a wonderful day working around the house, a leisurely late lunch with friends in Boulder, and then a meandering drive home through new places featuring the tidiest farms I’ve seen outside of Amish country in Pennsylvania.
But the sunset didn’t disappoint. The clouds had cleared to the west and I was gifted with red and gold highlights over the silhouette of the peaks. Sunbeams burst through crevices in the clouds; giving the saying “there’s always a silver lining” new meaning.
Happy summer from the yellow house on the outskirts of town.