It is officially summer in Michigan – because it is after Memorial Day. By the tourist calendar summer is June, July and August but my sensory calendar feels a bit off kilter, maybe more in line with the lunar calendar. I feel like I am in a sort of time warp where we are past the flush of spring blooms but not quite into the full summer blooming course.
This week we decided to once again go down dirt roads, finding some to the west that we haven’t traversed before – excited to find new territory. There weren’t many wildflowers and the landscape was very green, lots of green. It got me thinking about the landscape when we returned to Michigan just two months ago. In mid April we still had barren trees within a monochromatic brown landscape. The major transformations that takes place between winter and summer, and summer and winter still feels miraculous to me after witnessing it many, many times. Unlike me, this story of nature never grows old.
There is a sense of peace that comes from looking over a green landscape that just a month ago was being worked with tractor and plow and is now growing, in various shades of green under a clear blue sky (with a few clouds stretching along the horizon with the sole purpose of providing interest for my landscape photos.)
It is time for the first mowing of the hay fields, and they seem to provide a sneak preview of the harvesting that will take place within the next few months. Julie and I each bought a quart of fresh-picked strawberries at an Amish grocery that we frequently visit. Michigan strawberries are so flavorful but the season is so short. This is the last week so we are picking up a few quarts so I can make freezer jam for us and some to share with daughter-in-law Natalia. She shares so much food with us, so it is fun giving something back to her. I still feel a sense of joy when I preserve food fresh from the fields for our enjoyment throughout the year. I have done some adjusting, however, in the foods I preserve and the ways I do it now that there are just two of us eating and I have less energy.
I really miss the old barns when we are in Florida so I’ve been yearning to find some barns that have some architectural or historic beauty. We have been down our local dirt roads so many times that we talk about when we stopped to photograph this or that barn, but don’t stop again. This week I found a new one. I love the curved roof-line of the front extension on this barn and the doors are a beautiful color. Does this farmer have a few artistic genes? Did he pick the color from the Better Homes and Gardens modern barn colors at the local hardware store?
I have been enjoying the fields where the corn is just sprouting, a pleasure that will quickly come to an end because many of the fields have corn that is close to a foot high. There is a special moving pattern formed by these fields when passed in a fast-moving car. Because of our gently rolling hills the plows create gently-curving patterns. It feels very artistic to me, but I image it has more of a scientific or practical bent for the farmer.
It was a very good morning that soothed my soul, allowed me to spend time in conversation with a very special friend, and stimulated my thinking about the beauty I enjoy as I ride dirt roads in the middle of June in lower Michigan. Life is happening at a gentle pace here – and I like it like that.