While the calendar offers 3 months of summer every year, here in Vermont (and in other northern climes, I’m sure), summer is really all about July. Let me explain. In early June, many nights (and even a few days) have me reaching for my fleece jacket and worrying over my tomato seedlings. And then by late August, I’ve got my fleece back on and there are early splashes or red and orange on the hillsides. Now don’t get me wrong, I love June and August, but July, now that’s the stuff. That’s the full, fat, thickness of summer—the only month that I can rely on to be summer start to finish. And, as such, I revel in it. I take any opportunity to soak it in. I read on the deck in the evening, I eat meals on the screen porch, I leave all the windows open even when it rains, I stay outside as much as I can, I scratch in the dirt, I swim in streams, I wear flip-flops and short dresses, I walk the dog through grasses so tall he disappears, and I cook and I eat and eat and eat. I gorge on tender lettuces, cucumbers and ripe berries. I make the rounds of the farmers’ markets, scarfing up every new crop as it appears. From peas and spinach to onions and runner beans to summer squashes and new potatoes; I shop greedily as the farmers’ stands fill out and their crops grow taller and rounder. My hunger deepens as the peppers and tomatoes get fatter and juicier, as the carrots grow longer, as the beets get rounder, as the arugula turns spicy and as the baby lettuces make way for lusty kales and cabbages. During the day, as I sit in front of the computer in my un-air-conditioned office, I surrender to the sweet residue of raspberries on my lips, to the perspiration that makes my forearms stick to the desk, to the itch of nettle stings on my ankles, to the buzz of wasps making a nest under the eaves, to the swishing of the leaves in the breeze, and I dream of what I’ll make for dinner.
July, I’m yours.