Posts Tagged ‘the Fair’

The View from Mattie’s Pillow

August 6, 2013

I’ve taken a long break from writing here, and now we’re toward the end of summer with the Fair going full swing. I’ve given myself a break from writing in general, a strange thing to do when writing sustains and refreshes me as much as it does. But I had reached a point where the thought of sitting in front of a computer after a work day of teaching and running a department carried too much weight of obligation—and I didn’t want that to enter or underlie this blog.

That said, I’m enjoying the last few weeks of waking when I want to before returning to campus to move in to a new office and facing the plights and gripes of my colleagues. I have a school year to go before I can step back into the oblivion of just teaching—till then, my posts here may be sporadic.

We’ve had a lovely, if hot, summer here in the Interior. Spring dallied. It snowed on the day of the Preakness—mid May—and every gardener I know put their garden in late. The late cold was followed immediately by weeks of 80- and 90-degree weather, giving us no time to adjust, so the gardening that should have been done at that point was limited by our ability to tolerate sun and heat—our blood hadn’t thinned enough by then, and we fell into evenings debilitated as the sun lingered into our long white nights.

Now we have a few hours of darkness to counter our still hot days. The cycle is shifting, and with the slatey blue light that settles in around midnight comes cooler air—down to the upper 40s the other night. Instead of our typical fair-time rain, we are having smooth blue skies and 80s during the day, but the nights are giving us warning of what’s to come.

Today, I’ll load up Mattie and Sam for one more lesson before I ride Mattie in the Fair dressage classes on Friday. We are moving up a level to Training 1—after all these years, things are beginning to click. I can feel my right side when I ride, for example, a challenge for someone as left-sided as I am. And Mattie has learned to move at an even pace, not race around, pulling at the reins.

The garden is flourishing; the tomatoes are producing green ovals that may ripen before I close the greenhouse in fall—or later in the newspaper layers I store them in. Fireweed is blooming closer to the top, but isn’t all the way there yet. A few more weeks. I’m in summer brain, every moment. A few more moments, moment by moment, absorbing everything the sun brings, storing it up for the days I’m not ready to think about yet.

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The View from Mattie’s Pillow

August 8, 2011

Fair Weather

 

Suddenly last night, I noticed darkness.  When clouds cover the sky, a chill fills the space we walk in, here in the Interior.  And the fair is on.  It’s a strong hint that summer is—well, I can’t bring myself to say it.  This summer seemed to start early with a May drought, sunny and warm.  In June, we had July rains.  In July, August rains.  Now that the fair is here, we’re still off kilter, if any summer can be said to be usual in the Interior, and it’s sunny and bright.    Still we have all this week to go till Saturday’s end-of-fair fireworks and plenty of weather to cram in during that time.

 

On Thursday, I take Mattie to the fair for the second year, to ride the Intro A, B, and C dressage tests.  She and I have been working hard together to find bend and regularity, and I’m discovering just how unbalanced my body has become over the years.  I knew this from dancing.  My left-handedness is so strong that my natural tendency is to mirror left for right, and, because I always lead with the left, all the dance injuries I’ve ever gotten are on the left side.  I sometimes forget that I even have a right side.

 

This becomes crucial when riding—especially an inexperienced horse like Mattie.  My right and left legs give different strength cues, and I tend to try to ride entirely with the left rein.  This leads to a pulling match between us, no fun with a half-ton horse.  But we’re working on it and Colleen and Trisha, being inventive teachers, have given me images and corrections till I am beginning to feel when I default to the left side.  When I get it right, bumping her with the inside leg so that she is contained by the outside rein, she flexes her neck and becomes soft and steady in her gaits.  This is happening more often—and I’m realizing how much of that is literally in my hands—and I hope it happens during our dressage tests.

 

As for Sam, he became a little lame a month ago and is just returning from a layoff in time for me to be looking for a second rider to join me on some long trail rides around the hills in our neighborhood.  I’m looking forward to clopping along our dirt roads as the sun slants deeper in the sky, stretching the season out through the time of yellow leaves and the panic of closing down the greenhouse before the first real frost.

 

Till then, the garden is flourishing more than I can keep up with, especially kale, broccoli, broccoli raab, zucchini, cauliflower, and the jungle of the potato patch.  In the greenhouse, I have cucumbers and peppers, but the tomatoes seem to be coming slowly.  I’ve heard that the yellowjacket population crash has made for fewer pollinators, though there have been bumblebees and honeybees in my flowers.  And, after last summer, I can’t complain that there are no yellowjackets since it means I can walk barefoot without fear.  I think that there are several factors in the case of my greenhouse: I got a late start; I mixed manure into the potting soil prematurely or used anaerobically composted manure; and, well, this is right where I was last year at this time.  Keeping a blog has its uses, after all.

 

Today, sunshine.  I am in the last week of my fiction writing class, and the students are producing wonderful work.  We have three nights left, then the fair, then—well, more on that when it comes.  No use jumping ahead to what summer takes us away from.

 


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