Endless Summer

"Summer magic, the soft summer magic, drifts across the meadow. Summer magic, it weaves through the willow, right into your heart."~R. Sherman

I was properly horrified to glance at my feed reader and realize that my last post was three weeks ago! Where has the time gone? It feels like it should be May, and here it is the first day of summer. Philip and I have pledged between ourselves to be as intentional and aware as we possibly can in this sweet, fleeting season. I tend to idealize the summers of my childhood when there was nothing more pressing than a fresh stack of library books and the prospect of the neighbors’ swimming pool in a long series of afternoons that stretched blissfully out into forever. I have to make time for summer’s pleasures now—they aren’t just doled out like popsicles as they were when I was a little girl. But there’s something about a pleasure that’s deliberately created that has a magic of its own.

And the magic of summer is like no other.

Hearts grow dearer and heaven seems nearer, Winter dreams come true. Oh that magic, what wonderful magic summertime can do." ~R. Sherman

We’ve been taking as many meals as possible on the front porch these days. There have been a lot of quiet dinners, just we two, where we’ve talked long and low about the things that matter most to us over fresh summer vegetables and grilled delectables, watching the lightning bugs come out and the moon silver the front pasture and the trees around the house. And there have been a few joyous evenings with friends, mouth-watering seafood and ice-cold champagne and homemade ice cream. We’ve always been astonished at such times to hear the grandfather clock inside chiming midnight, the time has flown so happily. These are the hours that make summer what it is for me. Good company, good conversation, good food.

actually, a springtime breakfast on the porch. but the same general idea.

Last weekend we hosted some of our dearest friends for one of our ‘work-swaps’, and while we accomplished much during the day, it was tempting to stay up all night talking and catching up in the rocking chairs on the porch. We ladies managed to chat ninety-to-nothing over life philosophies and God’s latest work in our hearts while weeding the garden–and even during a bee inspection. But when the four of us starting talking books and Masterpiece Theatre and theology around the table, all bets were off. I’m ashamed to recall how many times I interrupted someone else in my zeal to introduce writers as diverse as P.G. Wodehouse and Dorothy Sayers into the conversation.

With the garden, my main goal has been to keep everything alive and watered in the uncharacteristically brutal heat we’ve had this June. The tomatoes are still green but promising great things. And I’ve planted my strawberries in wicker baskets hanging from shepherd’s hooks for a change, on the recommendation of a master gardener I met in England. We’ll see how the slugs and chipmunks like that! 😉 The brambles are all coming in nicely and they are succulent and delicious—provided I can beat the peacocks to them! Adhiraj and Panav have developed quite the taste for raspberries. It’s the first time I have scolded them for anything, and that is saying quite a lot. (Speaking of the peacocks, they have settled into their home here with a familiarity that continues to enchant us. One afternoon I was playing the piano in the front parlor when I had the uncanny sensation that I was being watched. I turned warily to look over my shoulder, and met the inquisitive stare of two peacocks, craning their bright blue necks as if to figure out what the heck I was doing in there making all that racket!)

Adhiraj and Panav*

Hermione and Perdita, the Nubian doelings, are the delight of my heart. We could watch them at their antics forever—though Perdita attempted such a fancy caper yesterday she actually sprained her ‘ankle’ and consequently was prescribed a day of ‘stall rest’. Needless to say she was not too happy about it, but the little hoof was much better today and she’s sporting a fancy pink wrap just in case. It has been so much fun to see those little goats assimilate with the rest of the animals. The sheep were not so sure at first and tried to bully the newcomers. But Puck, their enormous big brother has been gentleness itself. He follows them around, as if to assure himself that they really are goats. And when they are confined in their pen from time to time, I’ll catch him reposing right against the fence on the other side, as close as he can get. My Great Pyrenees, Diana, has been a darling, as well. I watched her in the pasture the other day, napping in the shade near where the goatlings were grazing and then heaving herself up to move closer again every time they edged farther away.

Hermione and Perdita love their new quarters in the barn. Hermione thinks that the manger makes the nicest bed, while Perdita prefers the platform of the yet-to-be completed haydrop.

Let’s see…we’ve had our first honey harvest this summer. We were literally giddy over the taste of two years’ work, although, when it came right down to it I felt rather bad about stealing from the bees. They have really done all the work and I am so proud of my girls. But there was just nothing to compare to that first sample of liquid gold: it was the soul of all our spring flowers infused into one toothsome bouquet.

Ophelia, pre-shearing*

And where have all the other days flown away to? Hoof trimmings and vaccinations and shearing (the sheep didn’t recognize each other for days, silly babes). A jaunt to my beloved Jekyll Island in May. Books read and book club meetings. Mucking and painting and renovating and cleaning and the thousand and one daily things that make up the making of a home.

La mer a berce mon coeur pour la vie...

And writing! Oh, my goodness, I’m writing like crazy this summer! Hoping to finish the rough draft by the end of August, but we’ll see how it goes. I don’t want to frighten the muse away by demanding too much of her.

And thus concludes the most random post I’ve ever written here. All this to say I’m still around, and that I hope you all have the dearest, most magical, summery-est summer of your lives. God bless!

~Lanier

"Summer's lease hath all too short a date..." ~Shakespeare

*photo credit, Griffin Gibson

25 Responses to “Endless Summer”

  1. Gretchen says:

    You are wonderfully delightful in your writings, random or otherwise. Thank you for the update in words and pictures, dear heart!

  2. Lisa says:

    I’ve been waiting for this update! I’m so happy to hear you’ve been working on your manuscript. The pictures are gorgeous. I’m glad you’ve been having such a good time! Even though the summer here in Southern California gets unbearably hot, I refuse to believe that this season is anything but marvelous. There are beaches to be visited, friends to entertain, outdoor performances to attend! :)

  3. I was just thinking of you today!

    I was thinking how you talk about your “little book” and such (even though you are one of my all time favorite writers!!!) and that is the way I think of my garden.

    How often I’ve told people, “I’m not really a gardener, I just have this garden”… and then I think of you and tell people I AM a gardener because I garden. :)

    By the way, you must write a book that has scenes such as your Advent posts from years past.

    • Lanier Ivester says:

      You ARE a gardener, Brenda. No doubt about that. I’m glad my words give you courage to avow it. :)
      And, yes, I don’t think I could write a book that didn’t have some treatment of Advent and Christmastide! :)

  4. Vanessa says:

    Dear Lanier,

    That last photo has inspired me to borrow a friend’s record player for the Outdoor Summer fete (Baby Shower) I am planning for my sister! Any recommendations for music on a warm August evening? This will give me time to scope out records at garage sales, vintages stores and the like.

    Blessings,
    Vanessa

    • Lanier Ivester says:

      Sounds like fun, Vanessa! Music recommendations? Hmmm…. I’d say look for some old instrumental dance music–Lester Lanin, Ted Heath, that kind of thing. Henry Mancini is always a good bet. 50’s era female vocalists. Mantovani has kind of a dreamy sound but makes for good, atmospheric background music. Keep your eyes peeled for Reader’s Digest record sets, too–those are great and relatively easy to find. They put out a lot of great compilations of classic mood music in the 60’s and 70’s. :)
      Hope that helps! And have a great time at your party! :)

  5. Gillian says:

    Thank you for this lovely post and for the beautiful R Sherman quotes. If not already familiar with it, may I recommend John Singer Sargeant’s painting “Carnation Lily, Lily Rose” – the inital Sherman quote brought it immediately to mind.

    • Lanier Ivester says:

      Gillian, my parents have a print of that painting hanging on the wall of their home–they always say it reminds them of my sister and me when we were little. :) You’re right–it’s beautiful.

  6. Maria says:

    What a splendid summer banquet you have spread for us! So much summer charm. And I have a delightful, little lipstick strawberry still sitting here in its nursery-trappings that I didn’t quite know where to plant. Thank you, thank you.

    You took me out of my world. I’m happy for you that you’re living so much in real time that internet time is slipping by unnoticed.

    I was going to post this for you tomorrow, on Midsummer Night’s Eve, but here it is a day early. It’s from an Irish poetess, Katharine Tynan.

    JUNE SONG

    To sit in a gold meadow
    In a great tree’s shadow;
    The tide of gold and emerald about your feet;
    The hedge bursting to blossom
    White as a swan’s bosom;
    The shadow of leaves upon you, is bliss complete.

    The cuckoo calling nigh you;
    The larks springing by you;
    Nightingales at noonday, jug-jugging in the grove:
    Finches, blackbirds, and thrushes
    In all the bowers and bushes,
    God knows, this side of Heaven, is heaven enough.

    Woods through the heat-mist glimmer
    With silk of the green a-shimmer;
    Purple and bronze of the beeches in a sudden stain;
    Scent on the wind delicious
    From gorse in its golden riches;
    Bliss beyond human bearing grows almost pain.

    O you poor folk of cities,
    A thousand, thousand pities!
    Heaping the fairy gold that withers and dies;
    One field in the June weather
    Is worth all gold ye gather,
    One field in the June weather—one Paradise.

    May you see the face of your true love in your dreams tomorrow night. :-)

    p.s. I just found this tidbit (from G. Keillor). Interesting in light of your bee rhapsody…

    “Tonight is Midsummer Night’s Eve, also called St. John’s Eve. St. John is the patron saint of beekeepers. [Did you know that? I didn’t!] It’s a time when the hives are full of honey. The full moon that occurs this month was called the Mead Moon, because honey was fermented to make mead. That’s where the word “honeymoon” comes from.”

    • Lanier Ivester says:

      What a breathtaking poem! Thank you so much for sharing it with me, Maria. I’ve never even heard of Katherine Tynan. She certainly captures what I feel about this season.

      And, no, I did not know that about St. John’s Eve and the origins of ‘honeymoon’. That’s fabulous. (And we did actually honeymoon in June… :))

  7. Monica says:

    I am new around here but I have to say that I truely enjoy your meanderings. Your post made me go back into time when I was a kid and had all the time in the world to play and then as a teen read and lay around. Where those ever the days! ~smiles~ your posts captivate me and keep me longing for more. What a wonderful writer!

  8. Olivia says:

    How lovely, Lanier!
    I completely concur about the magic of summer, and I just want to savor every minute of it! Your writing is delightful, I always enjoy it.
    A Happy Midsummer to you!

    ~Olivia

  9. Jess says:

    Oh my goodness, you live the life of my dreams, Lanier! I’m so glad you write about it so that I can share just an eensy bit. :-)

  10. Julie says:

    What a wonderful post. I’m almost giddy about the stack of books waiting for me this summer. It is indeed a magical time, and as I grow older, there magic becomes more real. The change in pace, the ripe tomatoes, the lingering talks with friends. As I write, I’m sitting on my screened porch feeling a storm rolling in. There’s nothing quite like it. I feel like I’m 7 again. Thank you for sharing your life and your heart. Blessings on your summer!

  11. Nancy says:

    Lanier,
    Could you post a photo of the strawberries? I can’t quite visualize how they are planted, but it sounds like something I would love to try. Your post made me quite envious– it has been so terribly hot and dry here in Central Texas that my poor garden is just about done.
    Nancy

  12. Elisabeth says:

    Beautiful! Here’s hoping the rest of your summer is perfect – and, of course, that the words come for the completion of your manuscript!

  13. Amy says:

    Love the record player, Lanier – do you happen to have some sort of cordless model?

  14. Abby Maddox says:

    I loved this post. I feel like I got to catch up with you a wee bit, since Lauren came to see us right after the work weekend :). Glad to hear you’re doing so well!

  15. Kiersti says:

    This post was comforting and refreshing to my soul…thank you for sharing, Lanier. You are a blessing; may the Lord bless you, Phillip, and your family of friendly beasts. :)

  16. I want peacocks. Do they mesh well with dogs and cats? We have both, and I wouldn’t want them to hurt the peacocks. I love the sounds they make and how beautiful they are just walking through the yard. I’d be devastated, though, if a dog got one. Any advice?

    • Lanier Ivester says:

      Hi, Debbie–yes, peacocks get along famously with other animals. They like to hang out with our cats, dogs, chickens, goats and sheep…always maintaining their superiority, of course. 😉 The only problem would be an aggressive or overly-playful dog that would harass them or possibly hurt them. Ours know to leave them alone, but I imagine that some dogs would definitely need to be trained not to mess with them. (Plus, one of our dogs is a livestock guardian, so she keeps away any potential predators.) Do keep in mind, peacocks are VERY noisy, particularly during the mating season (mid-spring–late-summer). If you have near neighbors you may want to keep that in mind. Our peacocks roost with our chickens at night, and that definitely cuts down on the noise. But I think that’s a little unusual. Most of them prefer to roost in trees where their screams can carry on a half-mile or so. 😉 They are truly fantastic animals, though, and a joy to have around–truly ‘living art’. I adore mine and would recommend them to anyone, provided they are prepared for the noise and can protect them from predators. :)

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