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Yesterday was finally cool, under 75 degrees when I got home from work. What a glorious day it was! So much like fall. Last night got into the 50s; good sleeping weather. This is the beginning of summer’s end.
Signs of summer’s end
The choke cherries are ready to harvest so I hurried out after work and picked what I could, leaving plenty for the birds and bears. Didn’t want a face-off with some bear sleeping off a binge in the brush. Been there, done that, got away with T-shirt intact.
What on earth do I do with choke cherries? Boil them for about an hour, strain the juice out and use it to make syrup for the winter. We can get tired of maple, after all. It’s good on ice cream too. I make syrups and jellies of anything we have growing wild in sufficient quantities. Blackberries are next. I sometimes give some away to family for Christmas.
Already the trees along the highway are starting to show stress signs and early color. The late summer plants, like Joe Pye Weed and goldenrod are starting to flower. Maybe I’ll try to dye some wool with goldenrod and bloodroot this fall. It takes a lot of plant material to dye just a small amount, and a lot of preparation, but it’s fun to try.
We have quite a lot of mice in the house already. My husband thinks it’s a sign of a bad winter coming. I think it’s a sign of hot summer and the mice moving into air conditioned comfort but what do I know?
End of summer events
The Moose Festival is getting organized for the end of August. August is the last great gasp of summer freedom, of course. By the end of the month the school buses are out again.
So here in my little town we kick off August with the Sugar on Snow evening. People gather in our town common to have maple syrup on shaved ice, a homemade doughnut and a pickle. There’s music, of course, and vendors selling crafts. Sugar on Snow is followed the next day by Stewartstown Day across the river, with a parade and cookouts and all that stuff.
Other towns have their Old Home Days as well. There’s a fun one in Brownington, where people gather to practice old-time skills, shop at the vendors’ tents, listen to bluegrass, ride a horse-drawn wagon, or try out stilt-walking and playing with hoops. There’s a museum to tour and a good lunch put on. And one of those vendor tents sells apple dumplings that are a meal in themselves. I sometimes go spin wool at that one.
The mighty moose festival
But the Moose Festival is our multi-town extravaganza at the end of August. It comes right before the county fair opens on Labor Day weekend. Moose Festival spreads over 3 days in 3 different towns.
It starts in Colebrook, NH, where I work and goofs up traffic all day Friday. They close Main Street and have a street fair, with vendors, a clown show, music, a quilt exhibition, and antique car parade. It’s customary to have fried dough. It’s deep-fried bread dough with a little sugar on it. I was honored to be invited to set up a table in front of the Creative Natives store, where they sell some of my knitting. Sadly, I have to wait to see if they do that next year because I’ll be circumnavigating the festival this year.
On Saturday the Festival takes over the Canaan Town Park. There the moose-calling contest shows off North Country prowess. People also cook moose meat stews and have them judged. There’s a dog show, an area to inspect the antique cars, and arts contests, including some very impressive photography. On Saturday night a large farm in Pittsburg hosts a bluegrass concert. Sunday features a concert at the Tillotson Center in Colebrook, among other things.
A change in the weather
Event in these days of global warming, the old patterns still keep trying. At summer’s end the nights get cooler than the sticky 60s and 70s. The days still get hot and humid, though. In the mornings it’s often foggy but that burns off pretty quick. Afternoons bring the chance of a pop-up thunderstorm.
Nights without clouds make for great stargazing. At the end of summer the bugs aren’t as obnoxious. You can go sit out on the deck and see the Milky Way, watch the moon go by, view a meteor shower. The Perseid Meteor Showers are supposed to be underway about now. My husband found an app for his phone to point him to the best area of sky to watch them.
It’s now that I finally contemplate a vacation. Most people take them in the summer, but I use August to plot my escape for about a week in September. September is cooler, dryer, sunnier and more comfortable for outdoor work. It’s then that I do a lot of my dyeing for winter spinning, and any prep work on raw fleece.
All of that is done on the deck out of deference to my husband, who hates the smell of wet wool. So naturally I use buckets of water filled from the hose, and when I dump them I carry them away from the deck to avoid attracting the last bugs of the season. That’s backbreaking work. Water’s heavy!
September is also a great time to get out and walk without buckets of water. We sometimes hike out to special places, like the hanging rock in the woods over by Averill, VT. The scenery has given us a number of beautiful photographs at various times of the year. At the end of September the foliage usually peaks, and by mid-October the hills are gold and brown with just the last leaves and the tamaracks supplying the gold.
That’s the end of summer in my neck of the woods. How is it where you are?