Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Dog Days

I've recently stumbled across a couple quotes about August.

The first one was shared with me by an Of Woods and Words fan: 

"The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color." — Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting 

The second quote I found while leafing through the latest issue of Minnesota Monthly:

"If the calendar were a family, August would be the great, bosomy aunt who turned down her first proposal and never again had the chance to marry. Here she comes, all smothering warmth, smelling of Aqua Net, and accompanied by a slight sense of sadness for opportunities missed." -- Shannon Olson.

I found the second quote last night when I'd finally put my feet up after an afternoon and evening of what some people might call homesteading and what I prefer to refer to as "fridge damage control."  It all started when I went out to survey the gardens and came back with four more large zucchinis in my hands. Which brought our total of harvested zucchinis and yellow summer squash that had not been transformed into anything edible and delicious up to eight. EIGHT. 
Too much zucchini
"Okay," I said to Andy, holding up the latest zucchini harvest, "who can we plant bomb?" It's that awful time of year when everyone has zucchinis (too many zucchinis) and there's no one out there to accept the (gracious, selfless) gifts of zucchini. And so, instead of setting up a "free zucchini (!!!)" stand on the side of the road, I turned on the oven, and got busy. I cranked out a double batch of both zucchini lemon muffins and chocolate zucchini bread, and chopped up two of the larger zucchini to dehydrate for later use in soups and chilis. Before I dealt with the zucchini, I had to do some reorganizing in the fridge, which resulted in a vat of fruit salad and another cold savory salad. 

"Congratulations," Andy said as I worked to get the water bath canner up to a boil to seal four quarts of blueberry pie filling. "You've successfully made it 20 degrees warmer in the cabin than it is outside."  

At the time, the thermometer in the kitchen said the indoor temp was 87, while the outdoor temp was down to 73. (Thanks for exaggerating, Andy.)
Steamy stuff
I'm not going to lie. When I looked at all those zucchinis piled on my counter, my first thought wasn't a prideful "we totally grew that." Nope, it was a feeling of sheer, body-surging horror: "What the heck am I going to do with all of these." By the time I got around to the blueberry pie filling (which had really been my sole ambition for the day), I stood over the pot, stirring the 25 cups of steaming berries and muttering under my breath "just fucking boil already." I think I lost points off my "happy homemaker ala1950s image" for the profanity. C'est la vie. 


So yes, the first week of August is certainly hanging hot and heavy in these parts. Thank goodness there's a lake 20 paces or so from the sweltering stove to provide instant heat relief.

As for the sense of missed opportunities, already Andy and I are heading out to the gardens to survey both the successes and failures and saying those fateful words: "Next year . . ."

Next year? Already the kohlrabi and broccoli have had their time in the sun. The evenings are becoming noticeably shorter. The first load of winter firewood has been ordered. It won't be long until that autumn crispness starts to sneak into the air.

But for now I'm planning to enjoy this first week of August, with all its warmth, all its sunshine, and all its zucchini.

8 comments:

  1. Oh girl, can I just tell you how jealous I am? None of our zuchinni or squash produced. It would start and then shrivel and die. It was a darn tragedy!

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  2. ok... while this was a lovely post and i too am a bit jealous, you completely sucked all of my attention when you mentioned dehydrating zucchini to use in soups. Please tell me more. how? how do you the store it?

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  3. Of course your garden's bounty is impressive, but then you had to go and throw in a Tuck Everlasting quote?! I love this post!!!

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  4. A bountiful harvest and beautifully cool weather (yes cool, even when you heat up the kitchen) - I'm so jealous!

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  5. Oh my gosh Ada, awesome post. I just bought zucchini yesterday and all I could think of was how terrible it looked with all it's knicks and cuts. So...I'm jealous :P

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  6. Ah yes, the bosomy aunt with an apron full of zucchini. I love it! Good luck taming your veggie bounty!

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  7. I love those quotes. They perfectly sum up August! I am so jealous of your zucchini! We love it and can never get enough. Ok one year we had 18 and it was a bit much. We started plant bombing. But last year our plant failed and grew zero and this year we've been taking care of our neighbors plant while she's gone and it has two tiny ones so far! We're hoping she'll give us a few! Have you made zucchini relish before? We did one year and it 1. Used up a lot and 2. Was delish! and 3. Was great in the christmas food baskets we made up! Good luck!

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  8. We're part of a co-op and get fresh veggies delivered every Monday and we are at the point where we just give away the zucchini and squash. We've simply had enough and I don't want to make it into something else at this point.

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