Summer Rhythms (updated)

by Oak Hill Studio

It’s been nearly a week since we returned from our travels, and I am really enjoying reorienting myself to a freer, more relaxed summer schedule.  Summer is one of those seasons that has really grown on me.  Fall was always the big favorite of mine, and in many ways still is.  Its chilly morning air, the scent of decaying foliage, the shifting sun and shadows, and of course the various hues of gold, orange, bronze, all combine to delight the senses.  I’m sure come late August, I’ll be anxious as ever for the shift to occur.  But maybe not–for a couple of reasons.

The first is that I am really starting to like some of the things that only come around once a year.  Many things actually.

I have never considered myself a morning person, yet I am finding that I really like getting up in the early hours shortly after the sun begins to brighten the sky.  It seems to be a time when hope is at its strongest and brightest, which blends well with my quiet time of prayer–settling my heart and mind and bringing it all before the Lord.  I have long had my quiet times in the morning, more for the sake of practicality before the busyness of the day gets in the way.  However, I really am finding myself looking forward to this quiet, peaceful time more than ever.  And its nice to have the sun and birds join me.

Another thing that I look forward to each year is the fresh produce.  After months of relying on the grocery store for veggies that have had to ripen during transport, I love being able to walk out the door to my garden and pick something for lunch or dinner, or even breakfast.

We have three blueberry bushes that finally are getting big enough to produce an appreciable amount of berries.  They are still in the ripening phase, but a few days ago I picked enough to have with my morning cereal.  As for veggies, we have been eating zucchini and green beans.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, egg-plant, and onions should be ready in another week or so.  Of course the winter squash will be a few months.

On their own, green beans and zucchini can get a bit tiresome (though I did try a new variety of bean this year–Italian green beans.  We’ve only had them once with a stir fry, so I didn’t get a great sense of the taste, but the texture was nice.)   So I am always on the lookout for some new ideas.  One recipe I found in the Taste of Home magazine was for Grilled Veggie Tortillas.  They were quite tasty and easy to make.

The basic idea is to grill veggies (we used zucchini, summer squash, and red pepper).  Cut veggies in 1/2″ slices and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Grill for 4-5 min.,then, cut into 1/2″ cubes.  Brush one side of tortilla with oil and grill for 2-3 min. until puffed.   Spread the grilled side with a mixture consisting of 1/4 C mayo & 2 Tbsp pesto.  Sprinkle a bit of minced fresh basil and oregano.  Layer on the roasted veggies and chopped tomato and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Grill, covered, for 2-3 min. to melt the cheese.  That’s it!  I imagine you could substitute whatever kind of veggies you might have on hand.  And I think some sweet onion would be nice also.  Maybe throw on some sliced black olives…the ideas are many I would think.

And ah….my morning walks.  For the most part they have been wonderful!  Getting out early has been key with the heat we have been having lately.

 This morning, I left before everyone was up.  The forecast  is calling for extreme heat today.  It was already a bit steamy when I stepped out the door with Sandy, our black lab.  Thankfully, we have a trail that leads through the woods, so the temperature dropped a bit once I entered the shade.  I felt especially attentive this morning and was noticing so much—the beauty of the landscape, trees, wildflowers, etc, as well as the sounds and scents of early morning.  It was truly a wonderful time, until we neared home and I suddenly noticed our neighbors’ large dog heading toward us.  Thankfully, Nikko and Sandy didn’t tangle.  As I was catching my breath and holding Sandy firmly by the collar, their other little (if I could make the letters smaller to emphasize the smallness of this dog I would!) doggie came bounding towards Sandy, yipping and barking as she came.  Unfortunately, Sandy’s instinct kicked in and she had the poor little thing by the fur in a snap.  I think the whole event lasted all of 5 seconds, but the next part blurs a bit for me as the owner came dashing out to rescue her dog.  *Sigh*  Little one is now in the doggie hospital and we are awaiting news of her condition.  We think there is no major damage, but we’ll have to be patient as we wait to hear.

I’m not sure why I included that, but somehow it feels good to share it.  For those of you who are so inclined, prayers are appreciated.  Thankfully, so far the neighbors are being really generous about it and non-condemning.

*We heard late yesterday that the little dog checked out ok.  Thank you, Lord!