Monthly Archives: July 2010

Sweet Summertime


Dear Reader:

I had such plans for an organized summer routine–early rising, cup of coffee, exercise, shower, (re)learn some French, write, beach, craft or put up food, supper, water plants, read edifying book, go to bed. Of course there were going to be special days experiencing all that Maine has to offer in the summer–boating, canoeing, hiking, biking, camping, taking in a show at the Ogunquit Theater, enjoying a lobster dinner at the oilcloth-covered picnic table of a quaint, coastal eatery. Strawberry picking, raspberry picking, blueberry picking. A day at the Portland Museum of Art. Another day or two at 19th Century Willowbrook Village museum just up the road a-piece. A trip to the botanical garden over in Boothbay Harbor.

I have no doubt that I’ll manage to squeeze in most, if not all, of these outings, but my daily routine won’t kick in until August. It never does. And for a few brief, glorious weeks I will enjoy Maine, the Way Life Should Be . . . or, Maine, The Way Tourists Imagine Life Is In the Pinetree State. And why not? Why shouldn’t we Mainers (Mainiacs?) take advantage of what our home state has to offer, even if that means popping over to the beach after work one evening to watch the pinky-orange sunset from a nearly-deserted stretch of sand? Or plan a trip to Acadia National Park with the kids? Or go on a whale-watch excursion from Kennebunkport? Why leave all the good stuff to the outa-statas?

Maine Fare

Although I haven’t managed to get into my sweet summertime routine yet, I did find a pre-cooked lobster at the local market last week, and bought it in hopes of making a couple of lobster rolls for my husband’s and my lunch. After freeing the delicious meat from the shells, I found there wasn’t quite as much to work with as I’d hoped. I needed more filling. I diced a cucumber and an onion, mixed it all up with mayonnaise, a little salt, and a little pepper, and stuffed the sub rolls with the mixture. Add a big spoonful of homemade coleslaw and a couple slices of juicy cantaloupe and there you go, a delicious Maine-style summer lunch. (Yes, I would have preferred a simple, classic lobster roll with just meat, a little mayo, the salt and pepper on a buttery, pan-fried hot-dog roll, but this was quite good, too, in a pinch.)

Sockotta Socks!

I’m also happy to report that I’ve managed to complete a knitting project. These socks (I’m going to call them my Maine Summer Sunset Socks because they are the exact color of the sunsets down on Drake Island in Wells where my husband likes to go striper fishing from the breakwater while my daughter and I hang on the beach or hop along the flat rocks hoping to spot a seal) were very easy to knit. The self-striping yarn makes its own pretty pattern depending on what size sock you decide to make. I made these up in the large size so that I could get stripes. If I’d gone with the better-for-me medium, it would have ended up with more length-wise stripes. The instructions were clear, precise, and easy-to-follow. If you are interested in trying this pattern for yourself, it comes from the Plymouth Yarn Company and was designed by JoAnne Turcotte. The yarn is called SOCKOTTA and the pattern is S225, Mother/Child Socks in five sizes–you could knit up some footwear for the whole family just from this one, simple pattern.

I’ve found sock patterns to be complicated in the past, so this may become my “go-to” pattern. The proprietor of local yarn shops are willing and able to help customers find same-weight yarns if, say, I wanted to do a simple white sock rather than a striped, color sock.

The garden boxes are finally filling in with lovely green veggies. According to the Square-Foot Gardening book, I should have been able to re-fertilize the soil with a trowel-full of compost. I decided to put in a bit more than that, using one bag of compost per box. Even then, my plants seemed a little sickly and puny. Last year, I assumed the rain was the problem and amended with some organic blood-meal. This year, we’ve had beaucoup de soleil and some good, high temperatures, so I came to the conclusion that the amending recommendations in the book were not sufficient for my boxes–either I didn’t have the right kind of compost, the original “mix” of compost, peat, and vermiculite was off somehow, or our climate just begs for more soil nutrients.

I picked up a small bag of organic fertilizer at the hardware store for about seven dollars, worked in a half a cup or so into each box (staying a bit away from the plants so as not to burn them), and watered. A week or so later, the plants had perked up considerably.

Since then, I’ve decided that my measly six hours of sunlight may also be a major factor in the lack-of-lushness problem. The greens are thriving, while the tomatoes still seem too spindly. (Greens require much less sunlight, so this is a good clue that my garden site will never produce the plethora of tomatoes I crave). The peas, which took up eight of my precious boxes, yielded only enough for one decent meal. NOT a good use of space. The cukes and zucchini and summer squashes are looking promising. I have one green pepper growing, but something has begun to eat it along with my biggest basil. I dug around in the soil and found some red beetles . . . more on that in a later post.

In the Cottage Garden

This week, Dear Reader, take some time to enjoy the sweetness that summer has to offer. Drink a tall glass of iced-tea on the porch. Pick some raspberries and eat them right out of the box. Take a walk down a country road or a sandy beach or through a city park. Spit some watermelon seeds at your kids. Go to a small-town outdoor concert where the band plays in the gazebo and the townsfolk sit around on blankets and lawn-chairs on a sultry summer evening (bring bug-spray). Start a journal. Buy a sketchpad and some pencils and capture the view from a mountaintop summit. Fill yourself with summer . . . Outside the Box.