This time last year Eli and I were already on the island. I had work to do there before everyone could go so John and Benjamin came later. But Eli and I were bustling around setting up house. There were big fat puffy linens to dress all the beds in summer white. There were cushions to carry to the wicker furnished porch and tablecloths to dress the table. I covered every open surface with votives and the candlelight on rainy mornings and starry nights made every day feel like a holiday. I got big vases and filled them with island flowers and threw scarves over lampshades to make things richer. But the time the rest of the gang arrived we were well settled and knew all of the shortcuts to the pond. Still when I got home I realized I had missed a bunch of stuff. Things happen to the mountains and here on our smallholding whether I am home or not it seems.
We will be back on island again in a couple of weeks. But this year I am glad to be lapping up a little Vermont June. The lavender is blooming and with the windows open it is practically all you can smell. It seems early this year and fine by me. I fought the bees and grabbed bunches of it filling all the bedrooms this morning with the spicy summery scent. The peonies are also still blooming. I think I could cut them morning and night and still not run out. We moved to Vermont on a sweet sunny June day eight years ago. And so June brings back all of the firsts and reminds us why Vermont in a way no other month ever can.
There are the late lilacs, just now coming around. There are hot sunshiny days and cool evenings when a sweater and leggings are almost enough. The lightning bugs zooming around the woods make me feel silly and happy. We always have a bonfire in June with those long telescopic forks we bought that first year. We tuck the toasted marshmallows in between those little cookies with the chocolate on one side and smores never tasted so good. We planted our lavender hedge that first year too. Vermont looks like Tuscany in the summer only without the Mediterranean heat. And we had all loved the lavender in Tuscany and wondered how it would do here. The hedge is high now and blows in the breeze making the whole place smell sweet and spicy for more than a month. It feels like a celebration of this life we have made in these old mountains. A party guest from the city asked me recently if I would tell her what cleaning supplies I used. She loved the fresh lavender smell everywhere. I pointed out the window. Can I just tell you how happy that made me?
This morning after I filled the vases and before I got back to work I read for a little while to Oscar my Wheaten Terrier. Oscar loves to be read to and looks lovingly up at me while chewing his bone the whole time. He never gets up first. This started off as part of his calming training and quickly became part of mine. What do you do up there people ask. We walk in the woods, watch the turkeys and deer and raccoons who stop by to visit, feed the chickens from our kitchen window, learn about the stars and read to the dogs. And every few months depending on the season we spread a blanket in the upper meadow, stretch out, hold hands and smell the lavender or watch the leaves float down around us. We do run down to the city for work and restaurants and movies. But it is the reverse of our old way. The city bits are the intermissions and the natural bits are what we keep. We live here on purpose. We surely know that it may not always be this way. But for now it is just right—-