Writing in Summer Rain

Monarch Butterfly on Milkweed Plant

Thunderstorms have been rolling over all day bringing needed rain and a chance to get caught up indoors.

I’m less freaked out about the amount of food processing ahead. There have been more cucumbers than normal and I canned the last seven quarts of sweet pickles this morning. That will be the last, I promise. I also canned pints of tomatoes, apple sauce and a jar of the same pickles. While the water bath was bubbling I made a pot of chili for supper with fresh tomatoes and Vidalia onions. We’ll cook the remaining sweet corn of the season. My retirement has had that effect — things are less freaky.

Tomatoes are next, although the plan is to eat as many fresh as possible. With only two of us at home, we can’t eat fast enough to keep up with the growing and cooking so some will be canned and turned into tomato juice and sauce. I’m taking it in stride.

Two weekends ago the orchard hosted our back to school weekend. A balloon artist/magician entertained children, and of course there were apples to pick and eat. It was a chance for parents to have one more family fun event before school begins.

Getting ready to attend grade school was one of the great pleasures of life. Each fall began with friends, new clothes, new pencils, and lined, blank sheets of paper. I needed new clothes after growing out of mine. I was first born, so no hand-me-downs. The sensation of hope and opportunity to begin anew is memorable, unlike anything I experience these days. It was something. I hope today’s graders feel the same way.

A Dad walked into the sales barn at the orchard carrying a young child on a backpack and a two-year old on his shoulders. He looked very fit. After they picked apples the toddler helped me transfer apples from our basket to a bag. “Do you want to count them?” I asked. At two, children aren’t really sure what counting is, or how exactly to do it. He just pick up one apple after another and let me do the counting after one and two.

I can see why people return to work after retirement. When we’ve worked our whole lives in stressful situations there’s no slowing down. It will take work to settle in more comfortably after 50 years in the workforce. What I once thought were extra things — cooking, gardening, reading and writing — are now life’s main event. Not sure how I feel about that. I won’t be for a while.

August is the last month to cover editorial duties at Blog for Iowa. I’m not sure what will be next. We’re moving quickly through the procession of apples, Red Gravenstein, Sansa, Akane and Burgundy this week. We have family Friday events through the month of September, so with work at the home, farm and auto supply store time will fly — almost like I’m working again.

Not really. Living one day in society at a time as best I can, hopefully with enough money for seeds in the spring.

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