Summer in my yard

Today I want to keep it light. This world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket, so let's take a break and talk about wonderful food, gardens and sweet animals instead, yes?

I am going to tell y'all that even my mad love for gardening has been tested the past two weeks. It "feels like" 107 degrees in DC right now, and really, that is just not right. Yesterday I ventured out to trim, went nuts with my lopping shears until the sweat ran rivers into my eyes. Burning eyeballs urged me inside; I left a huge mound of yard waste strewn in my wake.

This morning, I soldiered out to clean everything up and then had to come in and shower in freezing water to restore my sanity. I like to be hot, but this is too much. No deodorant is any match for this. I'm wearing as little as possible, and I haven't a clue about the next time my hair won't be tied back in a ponytail.

That said, I love my yard. Love that loving it yields flowers and food and so much promise. The birds and squirrels have realized that I refill their feeders at the regular, and the wide variety of feathered and furry beings that come visit on a daily basis makes me very happy.

One little squirrel appears to have a cataract. We have come to a truce, that pip squeak and I. I don't shoo him away anymore, and he doesn't run when I walk outside. He's cute, and the squirrels really are incredibly creative, successful problem solvers. They're pigs but they work for the food they get.

 A gorgeous pattypan squash!

A gorgeous pattypan squash!

The birds range from the tiniest finch to the reddest cardinal, from the cocky blue jays to the dopey-looking doves. They are all beautiful, and each has a different personality. The finches share nicely, some of the larger birds flap their wings dramatically to scare others into fleeing. I always marvel at the color of the female cardinal's beak. If she has to be brown, at least she gets that fiery orange bill.

 somewhat blurry because i had to be stealth, but you can a squirrel, cardinal and a finch. That bowl is full of water- do you think anything will jump in or drink from it?

somewhat blurry because i had to be stealth, but you can a squirrel, cardinal and a finch. That bowl is full of water- do you think anything will jump in or drink from it?

Never before have we had enough sun to really grow tomatoes. Tom has long half-joked that my efforts to grow them in pots our deck made the few I got worth roughly $12 each. Not so, now! We're rolling in i pomodori, and I feel gleeful.

 Whole bunch o' toms; cold tomato soup (bottom left); caprese salad (bottom right)

Whole bunch o' toms; cold tomato soup (bottom left); caprese salad (bottom right)

Despite the heat, it is prime canning season, so I'm forging ahead a few days each week to turn summer fruit stars into jars of brightly-hued jam. Strawberries, meet cardamom. Shiro plums, meet basil. Rhubarb, meet bing cherries and hibiscus flowers. Peaches, meet lots of things.

 Shiro plums, basil and sugar

Shiro plums, basil and sugar

 The finished product.

The finished product.

No matter how sweaty I get, I'm never sorry I put up jars upon jars of summer's best. Before I know it, Jack will have started 5th grade and Oliver 2nd, the weather will become chilly, and fresh plums and tomatoes will be distant memories. Except on my pantry shelves where the ones I snatched fresh are frozen in time.