Monday, July 16, 2018

Stillmeadow - July


Gladys begins her July chapter with something I'm sure we've all noticed. In magazines and advertising, the pictures of summer show people relaxing in beautiful clothes, on beautiful green lawns, with beautiful foods and drinks on their beautiful tables. They are full of smiles.
There is such an air of leisure as they sun-bathe and acquire that lovely magazine tan. Often a stately gentleman great Dane or a lady Dalmation in her black-and-white summer print sits motionless just at the edge of the picture.
Definitely not the reality for most of us! Gladys contrasts the picture of lounging around with her life. As she decides "to take a sun bath in the back yard" she notes that her shoes are old with toothmarks from the chewing of puppies. Her clothes are paint-stained. The chaise longue needs paint, and its chair pad is full of holes, her heavy book falls to the ground and a dog puts his muddy paw on the open page. Much more like real life, wouldn't you say?!

From what I've read they had a big vegetable garden at Stillmeadow. They canned and froze much of their food.
 The garden vegetables are a source of endless satisfaction to me now. I think many people who began to garden because of the war will never be without a garden again. 
As I've said before, I don't have a big garden anymore. But when we first moved back to our home state after college in Boston, it was the time of the back to the earth movement. And at the same time, in our small area we couldn't buy organic vegetables. So we grew tons of food and froze it. Now, our local co-op offers organic fruits and vegetables, and in season most of it is locally grown. The Farmers' Markets in the area are another source of fresh food. It makes me so happy to see new, young farmers in the area.

There is a romance to the idea of growing one's own food, but it is also very hard work. That's pretty much all we did in the summers before kids. We cut down the size when they came along but still grew enough to put some by. Margaret and Michael grew up with flower and vegetable gardens, and it pleases me no end that they both have gardens now.
The weeds in the garden begin to have their way, after the first week in July. There is a new school of thought, as a matter of wonder, that believes in weeds! Their shade keeps moisture in the soil, they say.
That's a good thing because in this summer heat our weeds have gotten a bit out of control. And any moisture is welcome. We have had very little rain, and some of NH is in a drought. Our area is defined as "abnormally dry." Tomorrow they say lots and lots of rain, and it will be so very welcome.

As I have written before, Gladys Taber was a highly educated and intelligent woman. In this month's entry she tells us that she has been learning Spanish! She hopes to someday "be able to read one of the fine novels being written in Latin America, in the original!"
My adventures in Spanish have led me to think about education very seriously. Adult education, I believe, is the answer to a good many of the problems we have today. If every parent became a student for one night a week, for instance, there would be a new closeness to children.
And our own outlook would be broader. We tend to grow in on our own circumscribed world, and enlarging the horizon is a magic thing. Whether it be history, or philosophy, or how to plant petunias, no matter. It is a good thing to exercise our minds on something outside the routine of living.
In addition to the writing and gardening and tending to an old house and friends, Gladys and Eleanor raised and showed cocker spaniels! What energy! In this particular July, there were fifteen puppies! Three litters were born in the same week. Maybe dog breeders have a special energy gene. The woman who sold us our Lucy the Labrador has seven children and isn't 40 yet! We call her wonder woman.

I'm not a fisherwoman, obviously since I'm a vegetarian, but Gladys was. She described fishing in a way that sounded a bit like a gambling addiction! At the end of her day,
The banks grow dark, and the sky is peach. It is hard to see the bait on the hook. It is hours after we should have gone home. I see in my mind's eye the dogs, hungry, the puppies wriggling, the people who did not get to come with us looking at the clock every five seconds. The curious thing about fishing is that you never want to go home. If you catch something, you can't stop. If you don't catch anything, you hate to leave in case something might bite. There never is a time to stop.
She says what we all know to be true - "the days go by too fast in midsummer", and ends with
"Stay a little, summer, do not go," I whisper, as I take a last look around me before I go in. 

19 comments:

  1. I do like the way Gladys looks at the world. Did life used to be so simple? Or do I read it like that?

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    1. It wasn't simple. She often talks of her worries for the world, but she tries to see the best in people and possibilities.

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  2. Each month, I am grateful anew that you have introduced me to this book via your blog. It seems very much my kind of book, and reading your excerpts is just about the amount of reading I can comfortably manage right now without straining my eyes too much.
    Summer is wonderful, and July here has finally given us at least some rain.

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    1. I love your words. Thanks so much. Please send some of your rain to us!

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  3. I love the realism of this book that you're bringing out! I very occasionally manage to lounge in the garden with my book, at which point it clouds over or I have to peg out the washing! Usually I'm heaving around in it, and it's only a small garden!

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    1. I love this description!! Hey, I just saw on Gardeners' World a wonderful thing that is going on along the canals in Birmingham. Lots of planting to attract insects, which will attract birds, and on and on. Wonderful people, many volunteers.

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    2. Oh, lovely, you've seen our canals! I was running along some of them on Sunday. There is a lot going on to regenerate the canals and make them more pleasant places for people and wildlife. We saw so much running on Sunday - including a magnificent heron.

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    3. It really is lovely there! I am quite sure I could live on a canal boat!

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  4. These entries and your explanations often bring to mind my grandparents. They had gardens and flowers and my father's parents took us fishing. However, this was all in the Texas Panhandle and it was mega-hot in the summers, no trees, no A/C in their houses. What I remember about summer gardens and weeding was sweating and wishing I could go read my book with a glass of ice water and a fan. Ha!

    Interesting about your kids having gardens. Our daughter and son-in-law have one too. His mother always has one. I never have. I have a gift for killing plants. Anyway, I'm happy to see that their garden makes them happy. :-)

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    1. It was definitely a different world without A/C! I'd love to read some books that were published then about that area to see how people really did survive the heat. Does Samantha grow vegetables and flowers, or just one or the other?

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    2. Vegetables - cucumbers especially and then she makes pickles and cans them. Amazing to me. My mother and grandmothers did this. Not sure how she learned. Not from me. YouTube probably - LOL!

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    3. They must have eaten a lot of pickles!!

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    1. It is quite lovely. And thankfully you have your beautiful flowers around you.

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  6. We also grew vegetables when our children were young (close to half a century ago, gosh!) It makes me happy that our daughter and SIL have always a garden (and not JUST because we reap some of the benefits) -- and now their oldest son and his wife have a small one in the backyard of their first home. At our stage of life, I feel good about supporting local farmers through Farm Markets too. As always loved the excerpts and your interpretations.

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    1. Lovely that your kids garden! And I'm with you about Farmers' Markets! And I thank you, as always, for your kind words.

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  7. Reading this, I am reminded why I felt so comfortable with Gladys when I first discovered her as a young married woman. Except for her being so extremely well educated I identified so much with her and yet she was also like a mentor to me, brought out the best in me. And I certainly shared her hatred of telephone calls! Actually, I still feel like I try to walk in her shoes, make her proud of me. Does that sound silly?

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    1. Not a bit silly! I really feel the same way.

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