The Gloriousness of June

I THINK
I will write you a letter, 
June day.
Dear June Fifth,
you're all in green,
so many kinds and all one
green, tree shadows on
grass blades and grass
blade shadows. The air
fills up with motor
mower sound. The cat
walks up the drive
a dead baby rabbit
in her maw. The sun
is hot, the breeze
is cool. And suddenly
in all the green
the lilacs bloom,
massive and exquisite
in color and shape
and scent. The roses
are more full of
buds than ever. No
flowers. But soon.
June day, you have
your own perfection:
so green to say
goodbye to. Green,
stick around
a while.
         -- James Schuyler

James Schuyler has written the perfect poem: a love letter to a day in June. Not just any day. Today.

June green is unlike any other, vibrant and alive, still nourished by the spring rains, not yet ruined by hot sun, nor eaten by insects. Next to the June green, the peonies are more vibrant, the sundrops more sunny, the daisies more pure. Yes, June green is more.

The gardens are planted, red pears and green apples are growing, cherries are ripening, birds are nesting, perching, and singing.

The wild primrose opened in Sunday’s sun and surprised the surrounding motley plants. Her dazzling yellow perks up the shabby shed and makes the neighboring weeds look more stately. 

The new gate opens wide and the new fence keeps the fruit trees in and the riffraff critters out (so far).


If I stand by the garden gate I can watch the grape vines growing, their tendrils curling around and around. The grapes are too small still to be more than a vague hope. Will they be sweet? Will they be juicy? Will they be jam or wine?

The cherries are yellow, blushing pink. I ate one today, still sour, still small. Bluebirds are nesting in the eaves of the porch; wrens are nesting by the door. They can have some cherries as long as they share the deep blue June sky.

Dear June fifth, you are glorious. You are enough.

Eat Two Things

Supper, or dinner — no matter how many people are in your family, or how elegant or plain the fare, the evening meal is important in the life of your family.

Sociologists have long told us that. We get to converse with those we love most about our days and share laughter. Families bond over meals. The modern family that doesn’t sit down together for dinner loses out on an eating-together-relationship that can’t be replaced by other activities.

Yet how do we make time for cooking dinner when we work and get home tired and unorganized; or have to pick up the kids and take them to practice; or have evening meetings, classes, or homework; or…fill in the blank here.

Maybe our standards are just too high… Where is it written and how did it come to be that a good dinner includes salad, meat, potatoes, another vegetable, bread, and dessert? Restaurants who are trying to make money? Oh yes, throw in an appetizer there too. Few of us cook meals like that at home for family. And we shouldn’t. It’s wasteful; it’s too much food; and we’re all too fat anyway…But that’s the ideal, isn’t it? Little feasts as everyday dinners. More is better.

Lately I’ve been reading about the Rule of St. Benedict — medieval rules for monastery life. Not because I want to become a monk and not because I believe rules are inherently good for us, but because I’m interested in simplicity. I’ve been trying to simplify my life for at least five years now, and I’ve only partially succeeded. One of the intriguing rules of simplicity from the Benedictines is Eat Two Things. Bread and soup. Soup and salad. Rice and vegetables. Oatmeal and fruit. Cheese and fruit. Eggs and vegetable. Rice and beans. They are lovely duos, aren’t they? (Surely salad and dessert fits in here somewhere too?)

This intrigued me because I had just been considering the fact that when I made three things for dinner, I felt that I could call it a Nice Dinner. But just two? I was usually mildly guilty — as if I could have done better. Not that we were still hungry. We weren’t. But call it what you like — American society, Western food habits, Restaurant-itis, Foodie culture — two dishes didn’t look like a real meal to me. My go-to thoughts were not of gratitude, but guilt — that I didn’t make that salad, or those brownies, or the extra vegetable. And can I just say that we don’t usually go hungry at the cottage?

So for the rest of May, we will be trying this for our dinners. Two things. For the sake of intentional eating. Simplicity. Health. Gratitude.

*except for Saturday evening when we are having company for dinner and yes, we’re having appetizers, bread, salad, steaks, mushrooms, potatoes, and two desserts. Eight things. For hospitality’s sake…

**just in case you are interested, here are the appropriate words about food from the Rule: (notice the suggestion of vegetarianism for all but the weak and sick…and that indigestion is caused by excess…)
Making allowance for the infirmities of different persons, we believe that for the daily meal, both at the sixth and the ninth hour, two kinds of cooked food are sufficient at all meals; so that he who perchance cannot eat of one, may make his meal of the other. Let two kinds of cooked food, therefore, be sufficient for all the brethren. And if there be fruit or fresh vegetables, a third may be added….
If, however, the work hath been especially hard, it is left to the discretion and power of the Abbot to add something, if he think fit, barring above all things every excess, that a monk be not overtaken by indigestion. For nothing is so contrary to Christians as excess, as our Lord saith: “See that your hearts be not overcharged with surfeiting” (Lk 21:34).
Let the same quantity of food, however, not be served out to young children but less than to older ones, observing measure in all things.
But let all except the very weak and the sick abstain altogether from eating the flesh of four-footed animals.

Ordinary Days : a letter to my future self

light behind the storm clouds
Dear You,
Remember that rainy September day?
The cloud-filled sky and the freedom
from the sun’s tyranny?
No need to finish up summer today.

You gave yourself permission
to bake bread and make
a long slow simmering stew,
pore over knitting patterns
and write a poem to the future you.

You wanted to write in longhand
(not that there’s anything wrong with Pages or Word
or an online thesaurus)
but a letter deserves a pen.
There was that old found notebook and
There was your old found self in the pages.

Gardens you have planted — elsewhere.
Prayers that have been answered — somewhere.
Wisps of words you loved — written there.
Lists of books to read that now,
here in the present future,
were read in the long ago past.

And there was that quote from Chesterton
about the best book he never wrote…
You’ve written yours.
Begun in one life, finished in another.
It changed and grew with you
as you changed and grew.
Mais plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

Blue sky behind gray clouds
Have you been grateful for your two lives—
three or four, really if it comes to that—
Have you been grateful for the sameness of those lives—
the sky, the stars, the seasons, the circles, the cycles?
for that sameness enables us to see
the unpredictable unexpecteds
the extraordinary exquisiteness
the glorious graces
of those ordinary days
that make unordinary lives.


Like every book I never wrote, it is by far the best book I have ever written.
–G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man