Making the most of it
I can get caught up in the seasons. I welcome them, honor them, breathe them in, and harness the gifts they offer… winter, spring, summer, fall. When I think of them, I like to start with winter, because it’s crisp and clear, and a time to recharge my batteries for the other three. The grit to slog through the wind, wet and unknown of spring; the pace, patience and palate of summer; the richness, relaxation and reverence of autumn. And over again.
While each season carries its own intensity, summer pushes the boundaries. It’s tough to pack in all the goodness. Warm enough to have fresh air wafting through the house, the constant views of gorgeous summer flowers, the smells of sprinklers, bbqs and roses, the sounds of friends gathering outside and beetles singing through the night. And then trying to parse out time to fit in as many weekends of hiking and backpacking as possible while also nurturing, harvesting, eating and preserving the garden.
With this hot summer pushing everything to ripen a good month early, the bounty of fresh foods needing attention is a little daunting. Time for play seems tougher to find, since it’s not possible to wait until September to really focus on reaping what we’ve sown.
Play is important though, so with the weekend marked to go backpacking along the Selway River, away we went. I put the missed opportunity to collect more seasonal treats and the guilt of beets sitting too long in the garden firmly in the back of my mind.
I melted into the rhythm of the trail. The music of the river. The flow of Nature’s day. We saw countless piles of bear poop, and a paw print that sure looked like a cougar. And, we got to watch the evening routine of a river otter family – playing on the opposite shore, diving for dinner, shooting us the stink eye for being in a place they wanted to pop out on the rocks, and then eventually settling down for the evening. It’s amazing how just two days and nights can feel so different, so replenishing… even when you’re hauling your food and lodging from place to place.
When we emerged out of the last bit of dense foliage and into the parking lot, dozens of loaded wild blackberry bushes greeted us. Tired from the trail, we hesitated a moment. And then dove in to fight the thorns and fill our empty water bottles with the dark, delicious berries. In the end, I got it all. The chance to “get away,” and to collect 5# of reminders of our time on the Selway, which will warm my heart as I crack each jar of jam open this winter.