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summer speaks

July 6th, 2010 | 6 Comments »

This summer is no usual summer for me. At least not like the past five or so years when the span between May and September often found me barefoot, my head in the breezes and most likely staring down a day with little to no agenda. No, my friends, this summer is much different. There won’t be any tan lines, probably no exhilarating rides around the lake atop a kneeboard and it’s quite possible that my swimsuit will stay tucked away in the drawer. Which is kind of sad- I really like that suit.

I’m working a lot- as expected, and surprisingly, when I’m deep in my work, and not partaking in the forays into summertime that are going on around me, I don’t find myself wistfully gazing off into space, my knife in hand, fighting off an emotional tugging at my heart over what I’m missing. The moment that white coat goes on and I pick up my knife case, heading up to the kitchen with an armload of towels, my hair twisted at the nape of my neck, the rest of the world falls away and my passion takes over. I don’t miss out on anything because I am right where I want to be. Often I catch a glance out the back door of the kitchen, when someone opens it to toss out the cardboard boxes, and I see the blue sky above the tree line, sometimes peppered with fleecy cloud, but there isn’t an urge to drop what I’m doing and step out into the warmth. In fact, when I do go outside at meal time and gaze off over the lake, I have a moment of appreciation for the glorious summer weather, but I shrug it off and head back inside to do what needs to get done.

And no one is more surprised by this than I am. I’ve discovered a great deal about myself in the past two months at this job. Where I used to think that I could never spend another summer indoors, chained to a time clock, slogging through task after task, what I never realized before is that when you’re deep in a profession that you feel you were created to do, the hours slip away and the rest of the world ceases to matter until the day is done. If I struggled before to get through my work day, it’s because I hated what I was doing. There was no passion involved in the work. I may have been skilled, capable and good at what I was doing for 8 hours a day, but my heart didn’t swell with anticipation each time I stepped up to the plate. I cared enough to do what needed to get done, but it never stirred me. Now I’m being stirred each day, loving what I do and eager to go above and beyond to get done what needs to get done. I’ve discovered what it means to truly, truly love your job. And I’m so grateful for that.

And summertime, the sweetest months in Minnesota, are moving past me at the usual rapid rate and really, I’m fine with it. Still, the time that I do have to enjoy the sunshine has been more sweet and appreciated, simply because I know that it’s limited and I need to get out there, even if it means just taking a walk through my garden. In there, the summer is in full swing, strong and vocal and clamoring to be heard. With being so busy, I find myself living much more in the moment than I have in a very long time. For there’s no fretting about the future these days, there’s no financial stress or concern about wearing ourselves out tugging so hard at life to make it’s ends meet. And while I do know that this will come to an end, I can’t think about that. There’s still so much ahead, so much to learn, to do and to experience and many, many more days of work before it’s time to stop, to rest and to re-focus. For now, it’s nice to just ‘be’

My favorite time in the garden has arrived- it’s Hollyhock time!!

Every year I allow the Hollyhocks to take free range over wherever they decide to grow and am always amply rewarded with towering stalks and gigantic buttons of eye-popping color. These deep red ones on the left are a standard, jutting out against the pale backdrop of the house, offering a rich haven for lazy droning Bumblebees. The lovely pale yellow also come up each year.

This year’s surprise color is this gorgeous pink.


Almost every season brings a new color, one that’s morphed from a previous plant. This pink is so stunning, light and delicate around the edges with deep magenta accents in the center and along a few petals. The first bloom of this took my breath away.

Another surprise color this year is this lovely salmon.

I’ve gotten full on pink flowers in previous years, but this one shows more orange, giving it a nicer and richer color than just plain pink. The stalk of these bloomed so profusely that it fell over after a few days, so thick with blossoms. That’s the one drawback of the Hollyhock. It collapses under the weight of it’s own beauty.

This super delicate pink comes up every year. The center is a lovely rose color.

Here’s another return visitor each summer. The golden petals are set off by a deeper pink center that almost looks orange.

A brighter yellow made an appearance this year too.

And on top of it being prime Hollyhock time, the Echinacea are in bloom

One variety of DayLily managed to bloom this year. The others set their buds, which then dried up. Mysterious, huh? This one of my favorite though. It’s so exotic and beautiful.

The very delicate and lacey Scabiosa have also started blooming.

These lovely flowers, waving from atop a thin but sturdy stem are wholly dependent on sunshine to unravel their frilly petals one at a time. One day I will look and see a few swollen buds, then over a few sunny days, the tiny petals unfurl like tentative sails until they are all gloriously open and blowing in the breeze. I have three Scabiosa plants that should have a variety of colors. So far, all that’s opened has been white, but the others are now blooming and I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised soon.

The Bee Balm has opened it’s thin petals, much to the delight of the roaming Bumblebees.

The Phlox stands tall and proud with deep pink fists of color.

And rounding out the current events in the garden is the ever cheerful and sunny Coreopsis.

The funnest part about the Coreopsis is that the petals sort of resemble duck feet.

Summer is also speaking warmly from the vegetable patch, with tiny tomatoes and peppers, abundant Thyme and Oregano. The wily resident rabbit has been fenced out of foraging on my vegetable plants, and I still see him, gazing wistfully through the barrier at the bounty he can no longer destroy. I don’t mind if he wants to gobble up all the sunflower sprouts, but he won’t be making a salad bar out of my food, thank you.

And another loud exclamation of summer? A sunny morning, complete with fresh cherries in a homemade bowl on faded redwood steps.

I hope your summer is happily bending your ear with it’s tales of sunshine and play, that there’s glorious fruits and vegetables filling your lives and tummies. Any surprises at your end? Please share them so we can all find the joy in this exquisite and fleeting time.

6 Responses to “summer speaks”

  1. I’d just like to say…your garden rocks!! I love gardening…did I tell you I’m a perennial freak!!? Lovely pictures….wanna did me out some roots and share? :) I’m loving your Scabiosa flower…never seen that one before!! ~Chris Ann

  2. I loved reading this post! I too, love my job and it so makes a difference!! Lovely photography, also.

  3. Shannalee says:

    Sounds like you are living the dream, Kate, I mean it! I feel like everyone I talk to is looking for that same kind of passion about something, hoping to find a vocation that makes them look forward to work every day. You wrote about it beautifully, and I am so happy for you!

  4. Bette Ashcroft says:

    Hi Kate-in-the-Kitchen!
    I came across your blog about eight months ago and have been a fan ever since- your writing, your recipes and your photos are just wonderful. I’m thrilled that you have found this wonderful job that fills you with energy and passion. Still, I hope you’ll continue to post when you can, because you have a gift, and you are a wise woman. Out here in cyber-world we are cheering you on.

  5. Such a well written post.. Thnkx for sharing this post!