August Is Yellow

Part One
the august sun shines like a spotlight on the ten year old
joyfully riding her new green bicycle (without the training wheels) 
down the gravel driveway.

like a pro, not even braking,
she leans to the left and whizzes onto the dirt path
packed down through years of truck tires.

through the trees she rides, slowing now, for the pull of the dirt
is harder on bicycle tires (though easier on knees).
the trees bow to her, the queen of the bicycle.

the sun glints through the leaves and the air is
saturated with the sweet scent of ripe peaches
and the hum of satisfied and satiated bees.

she pays no attention to the glorious around her
because she is ten years old and not yet aware
that her childhood Augusts were golden.
peaches at apple hill

Part Two
the grandfather is waiting for her to tire of riding circles 
in the orchard. he figures it will take twice (maybe three times)
and she’ll be ready to listen to the lesson that peaches teach.

he has the ladder ready when 
she drops her bike next to the old green farm truck.
“Want to help me pick some peaches?” he asks.

he steadies the ladder and guides her small hand as they reach,
touching the fuzz gently, gently, every squeeze will bruise these 
peaches easy as you bruise those knees.

gently gently she places the peach in the basket looped over her 
      skinny arm.
he moves her hand to another hanging low on the branch. 
see how green? see how fuzzy? peaches have to ripen on the tree.

their juices have to be warmed by the hot August sun. they take 
their time ripening and can’t be hurried. you can’t pick the tree 
clean, you have to go again and again to the same tree. 
       peaches teach patience.

together they fill the basket, moving the ladder around the tree
taking their time — savoring the tree-ripened juicy chin-sticky 
sweet yellow sweltering August patience-teaching peaches.

patience is not his usual shape, this short round man in the straw 
hat and farm clothes teaching peaches to the skinny girl with bruised
      knees. 
she learned peaches. she learned love. she still stamps her foot at
      patience.

and she still can’t abide sickly grocery store peaches.
grandfather

For the next few weeks I’m taking an online poetry course over at Monna McDiarmid’s place. This first week we were asked to write about childhood, and if we wanted, to use the color yellow. I probably won’t post  all the poems, but this one I liked because it was such a good memory of my grandfather, who built Apple Hill Cottage. And my sister sent me this photo just as I was writing the poem…It’s a work in progress. Comments welcome.

Iced Tea on the Back Porch

This is the third August that has come around and I haven’t had to think about school. Instead of thinking on lesson plans and books and remembering kids’ names, I’m thinking on canning and freezing the garden’s produce, and sitting on the back porch with a glass of mint iced tea and enjoying these soon-to-be-glorious days of September.

Last summer we worked on the porch ceiling because the wood needed to be fixed before we could even think of putting a roof on top of it. We worked on it; I just didn’t document it, because, well, I wanted to have some nice photos to post about our wonderful, rustic back porch, just right for summer and mint iced tea.

Yeah, pride is a terrible sin…

I’ve never shied away from posting horrible photos of the cottage. You, dear reader, have seen pictures of holes in the floor, ugly plaster, dead mice in the walls, ancient electric wires, and rotten insulation. I believe in truth-in-blog-posting.

Mostly.

I’ve never shown you a picture of the back of the cottage.

The truth is, from the back it looks like an Appalachian Mountain Shack. This fact was brought home to me when we had to take photographs of the cottage from every angle for our insurance company. They didn’t want any pictures of the inside. The Beautiful Rooms that we’ve finished? Nope. They wanted photos of the outside. back of cottageOkay, so you can tell this was taken in the early spring. Actually, early spring, Last Year. Since then we have replaced, scraped, and painted some of the clapboard siding and fixed up the other stuff a little, but yes it’s still ugly. Although it does give you an idea of the scope of our problems. The mismatched windows belong to the basement workshop — not a high priority for remodeling; and what will we ever do with the cave there under the steps? Right now it’s a good place for garden tools…

We started with Mr. H.C.’s hard and fast rule — work from the top down. Replace the rotted boards on the roof. Put up new plywood and new drip edge. Take out unnecessary boards. Get rid of the spiders and wasps. Paint. And oh yes, put a new roof on the whole cottage.

These views made us consider a skylight or two, but that was rejected in favor of expediency and cost. Paint is cheaper. The new color is Sherwin Williams Segovia Red.

My sanding workshop around the back corner of the porch was in use again, as a door-stripping workshop. Lovely old French patio doors will eventually replace this ugly old metal door. It will be a great day when that old door goes on the trash heap.

But the work stopped when we discovered lead paint on the patio doors.  I don’t need any more dead brain cells, you know?

Now what was I saying?

So the porch is painted, the roof is fixed, but that ugly storm door is still there. So are Sliding Glass Doors # 5. And so is the ugly thirty-year-old indoor-outdoor carpet. Sigh. And the back of the cottage remains shack-like, with the top story painted and re-roofed, and the bottom floor ugly. (But the front is looking pretty good….)

At least no one sees the back of the cottage but the deer and the groundhogs. And they don’t care. And despite the unappealing nature of the photo above, these are views looking out from that ugly porch:

The skies and the birds and the green more than make up for the shabby carpet and the old screen door. And so does iced tea on the back porch while other people are in school…

Haiku for tomatoes 

August Eighth. We’ve been

Waiting with impatience for

these ugly beauties.