And summer’s lease hath all too short a date . . .

This summer has gone by so quickly! I was so deeply caught up in it that I didn’t manage to put together a post in July, and now I’m suddenly looking at the last days of August.

Lots of lovely things happened this summer. The fabulous Benda Book Club came to town, and I got to meet them in person and enjoyed a lovely, long lunch with them—something that would never have happened except for The Walled Garden.

With (part of) the fabulous Benda Book Club: Rudy, Travis, Shirl, Sandi, and Sharon, in Kirkland.

It’s such a joy to be able to get out in the world and travel again, and it was pure pleasure to spend a long weekend at the Empress in Victoria, B.C. I’d almost forgotten the pleasures of staying in a classic, traditional hotel. We walked everywhere and enjoyed the fabulous people-watching that came along with being hotel guests, and wonderful, leisurely meals including my very favorite: afternoon tea!

Afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria

We spent a weekend exploring Bainbridge Island and went to one of the most beautiful sun-soaked, flower-bedecked weddings I think I’ve ever been to at the Bloedel Reserve. (Congrats to Abby and Connor!)

Kurt and I at Bloedel Reserve in July.

And I just returned from a few days in the Columbia River Gorge with my sister, brother-in-law, and brother. In the evenings, we sat outside watching the sun set over the river and the stars come out—I even saw a shooting star! Though it was hot—107!—I could bear it because the most of this summer has been classic Northwest temps in the 70s and 80s (and also because the air conditioning was really good).

I spent lots of time in my own garden, which now “sprawls and spoils,” as poet Jane Kenyon wrote. I have to confess that this is the year the garden totally got away from me. It grew as if possessed—and I ran futilely after it with my clippers in hand trying—and failing—to keep up.

All in all, I was reminded what a lovely corner of the world I live in, which is always a good realization to come away with.

And some good news: I just found out The Walled Garden is a finalist for the Nancy Pearl Book Award, given by the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association (PNWA). Winners will be named in September at their annual conference, so stay tuned!

On the slightly less lovely note, I met a bear (yes, really!) on a walk through my neighborhood. Fortunately, he (she?) wasn’t very interested in me—just threw me a casual glance and kept on its bearish way, thank heaven. No photo, because I didn’t have my phone with me (and because the bear was much too close!)

Now, the light is shifting to that filtered orangey-gold look of early fall. I’m still having tea in my lounge on the deck as often as I can but I can feel the change in the air, and it’s always such a bittersweet feeling. I love this time of year as the garden comes to fruition. There are plums on the damson tree—not a robust crop this year, but enough for a few batches of Damson Gin to sustain us through long winter nights. But the sweet peas are on their last legs and I treasure the scent of every rose because I know their days are numbered. The Japanese anemones are everywhere, waving on their long stems, the rudbeckia is blooming, and the sedums are starting to blush pink.

But lurking behind the cool mornings and the sprawling plants is fall, a season I think I would love more if it wasn’t followed by winter. Then I remember that fall has its own beauty, and as much as I love the garden, it can be a relief not to be obsessed with it every minute, and to cozy in to the house again (and watch football!)

On a sadder note, I have to say that I’m devastated by the wildfires in Maui, and especially the destruction of Lahaina. I’ve been blessed to spend a fair amount of time there and have shopped and eaten out on Front Street many times. I can barely comprehend the scale of such a loss. My heart and my prayers go out to the people there. They will rebuild, but it will take a long time, and it will never be the same.

William Shakespeare lived through challenging times (including fires and pandemics) and no one understood the fleeting nature of time and beauty as well as he did. So I’d like to end with Sonnet 18, my favorite of his sonnets, an appreciation of the ephemeral beauty of this world and our desire (unfulfilled on this side of heaven) to try to grasp and hold on to it.

Sonnet 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d.

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st

Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:

   So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

   So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Keep “eternal summer” fresh within yourselves, my friends, and seize what remains!


All photos my own