September 14, 2009

A Summer Affair

As we go keeling headlong into our second New England autumn I've realized that summer here is much like a long-distance love affair. There's the spring joy of feeling the sun's warmth again after so long, accompanied by that muddy awkwardness of reunion; the summer's sunshiney bliss, and then there's fall: that long, last, brilliant and bittersweet night together before the goodbye of winter. The trees are blushing.

Unlike other long-distance love affairs, though, there's no communication between rendezvous. Summer is off in some unreachable place where there are no phone lines and no post. It's a sad, sad business.

I endeavor to remain perky, however. I'm determined not to let my dread of winter throw its shadow over the beauty of autumn. Here's one of my happy thoughts:

I love the fungi around here. I took the above photo in my neighbor's yard. After googling around, I think I figured out that this thing (looks like a Halloween mouth to me) is called Sulfur Shelf, also known as Chicken of the Woods because it's supposed to edible-- although, you're not going to find me hunkering down to munch on it anytime soon. Also, it might be damaging to the oak tree. Here's what Wiki says:

"The mushroom can be prepared in most ways that one can prepare chicken meat. It can also be used as a substitute for chicken in a vegetarian diet. Additionally, it can be frozen for long periods of time and retain its edibility. In certain parts of Germany and North America, it is even considered a delicacy.

However, a small percentage of people can have an allergic reaction when ingesting it. To quote Michael Beug[2] " causes mild reactions in some, for example, swollen lips" or in rare cases " nausea, vomiting, dizziness and disorientation." This is believed to be due to a number of factors that range from very bad allergies to the mushroom's protein, to toxins absorbed by the mushroom from the wood it grows on (for example, Eucalyptus or Cedar), to simply eating specimens that have decayed past their prime. As such, many field guides request that those who eat Laetiporus exercise caution by only eating fresh, young brackets and begin with small quantities to see how well it sits in their stomach."

Apparently some Sulfur Shelf can grow to be 100 pounds. That's one big chicken!

September 3, 2009

Firsts, Lasts & Everythings

This afternoon Sweet P, Buckaroo, and I took a chilly dip in the lake. It was refreshing, but the water is definitely cooler than it was two weeks ago. These cold nights are doing their thing. Also, it's so much clearer without the summer boats swishing up the muck; we can see the fish again. I keep trying to figure out which swim will be my last of the season, so I can mourn the end of summer, officially, but there's just no predicting the weather (I have learned). Today may have been my last swim, but if the sun and the mood strike me right, I may jump off that dock again in October. Ha!

Sweet P and Buckaroo, like so many other children across the country, headed off to school this week. For Sweet P, who's beginning her second year of middle school, this was easy-peasy stuff. Her most stressed moment was first-day eve, when she thought I hadn't washed her favorite jeans. Such drama! Still, I've gotta give the girl some kudos for dragging her own tushie out of bed every morning at 5:30 a.m. to catch her ride to the school bus at 6:45.

My poor mother was still dragging my bum out of bed until my senior year of high school-- when she finally just let me oversleep. I missed my favorite class, earned myself a detention and had to spend it cleaning up school trash. So embarrassing! Don't think she had to wake me up again.

Buckaroo was full of firsts this week. He caught his first fish (he prefers to catch and release), and he started preschool today. Many of the preschools out here are part of the school district, and the little folks have to be 2.9 years to attend. Buckaroo has not reached that advanced age, so he's attending a private preschool. He attends a one-day-per-week class that's geared for the newbies. During the 2.5 hours he enjoys play time, circle time, story time, and snacks. One of Buckaroo's favorite activities, according to his teacher, was counting. He is all his father's child.

I guess Buckaroo sensed that I wasn't having big emotions about the preschool milestone, so he threw a couple more in there. This morning he woke up with a dry diaper and then peed in the potty. I did a little jig over that one.

Also, though, Buckaroo did not ask to nurse for the second morning in a row. I know, I know, I can't believe I'm still nursing a preschooler. Before I had kids I said . . . Well, all moms say those pre-baby things, don't they? But Buckaroo is my last babe, so I decided to let him self-wean.

Then I panicked. What if he never gives it up? What if he's asking for a nurse break in the middle of gym class? I started to distract him, offer him his favorite foods when he asked to nurse. We were down to just his morning dose of milk before he really woke up. This one I didn't mind so much because it offered me a few more minutes of sleep before he started jumping on the dog. Plus, like I said, I'm never going to be in that space with him-- or any child-- again.

I'm not sure if we're finished. But if we are, I wish he would have mentioned it when he nursed three days ago. Because if that was the grand finale, I really wanted to remember every detail. The end of nursing is a lot like that last lake swim of the season. I'm always asking myself: Is this the end? Is this? I know autumn, and growing up, have their own kind of beauty, but I want to hold onto this moment just a little bit longer.