Midsummer’s Eve Skies

Midsummer is one of those words that I always heard, but for a long time I didn’t actually know what it meant. I just assumed that it was another way of saying “the middle of the summer” and didn’t mean anything specific. I later learned that Midsummer actually is a specific day; it coincides with the summer solstice, the longest day of the year and the official first day of summer.

So why is the first day of summer also called Midsummer? As it turns out, the traditional first day of summer used to be on May Day, or May 1. This makes sense, when you think about it. At least here in Tennessee the weather is usually pretty summery by the beginning of May, and the longest day of the year certainly seems like a fitting midpoint to the sunny summer season.

Midsummer has a bit of a magical reputation and a traditional connection with the fairy realms (for example, it’s when the events of A Midsummer Night’s Dream take place) so I thought it merited a bit of a twilight frolic in the out-of-doors. I wasn’t disappointed; the sunset-filled sky was a wonder to behold.

Last night may have been Midsummer’s Eve, but today is Midsummer proper. If you’re feeling a little down or stagnant, today is the perfect day to get outside and soak up some rays (with the proper sun protection, of course!) and fresh air. You will feel refreshed and restored!

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Farewell to Summer

Although it has technically been fall for a while now, this is Tennessee, which means that the start of fall doesn’t mean the end of summer weather. I couldn’t resist one more day of summer clothes last week just before the weather turned. Since that seems to have happened this rainy afternoon, I thought I would post a final couple of summery pictures for the year.

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It was a nice day for a walk with Walter. With the edge taken off of the heat, it was even cool enough for a light sweater! You can see the first fall leaves on the ground. The change in the seasons starts slowly, but it doesn’t take long after that.

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Equinox Processional: A Walk, in Photographs

Today was the first day of fall, or the autumn equinox, and it actually felt like a nice early fall day ought to. To me, this meant it was a perfect day for a walk around the farm. Today, I walked down through the bottom and into the woods down there.

As you can see, Florence came along with me.Image

It was really bright out in the pasture. It looked beautiful, but I was glad to get under the shade of the trees.Image

I find the forest so incredibly inspiring; is there anywhere more peaceful and beautiful? Every way you turn is some amazing element of nature, large or small. Even a fallen cedar tree across the path is a wealth of stunning color and texture.Image

On the other end of the spectrum, the woods are filled with huge trees. Gorgeous.Image

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I love the grandeur of oak trees. It’s amazing how big they can get.Image

The texture of the bark is stunning. I love the mixture of rough bark, white lichen, and green moss. Did you know that the presence of lichen on trees is a sign of clean air?Image

Perhaps some small woodland creature takes shelter in this hollow log sometimes. I’d like to think that it is some cute furry thing, but I imagine it’s more likely to be a snake or spider.Image

I love the forms in nature, but sometimes my imagination runs away with me. This root looks like some creature’s paw to me, with the moss as fur.

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Here’s a tiny fern, growing in the crook of a tree root.Image

I try never to forget how beautiful wildflowers – and even plain old weeds! – can be. Look at the gorgeous colors on these:Image

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I love the blue and yellow, as well as the greens of the moss and the leaves.

I can’t think of a much better way to start the new season. Did you do anything special to herald the arrival of autumn?

Easy Peach Parfait

Some days, I have a lot of lunch, and so I go light on my supper. This Easy Peach Parfait is a tasty and healthy solution for when you want just a little to eat.

It’s just a fresh peach, peeled and sliced, and plain Greek yogurt (unsweetened and unflavored), with some granola and honey sprinkled on the top.

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The sweetness of the honey and granola balance out the tartness of the yogurt, and it all enhances the flavor of the fresh peaches. Honey is a healthier sweetener than sugar or artificial sweeteners, so feel free to add it to taste. Pile it on if you want! I don’t use a lot, since I like the tanginess of the plain yogurt, but I realize I am a less sweets-inclined person than most.

The Easy Peach Parfait is a tasty multi-tasker as a healthy snack, a tasty breakfast, a light lunch or supper, and sneaky substitute for a decadent dessert. Embrace the end of summer by eating as many of these as possible before all of the fresh fruit is gone!

Summer Harvest: Corn

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Summer Harvest: Corn

Here is the first harvest of corn from the garden! This variety is a sweet corn called Silver Queen. I like it because, while it is sweet and delicious, it does not have the overly sweet taste that some newer varieties such as Incredible have. I tried some Incredible from the farmers’ market recently and I didn’t like it at all. I don’t want my corn to taste like someone dumped a cup of sugar into the pan!

Do you have any favorite varieties?

Peach and Blue Cheese Salad

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The best salad in the world? Well, it’s up there.

This salad features grilled (yes, grilled!) peaches from the farmers’ market on a bed of lettuce fresh from the garden. The peaches are peeled, cut in half and pitted, with a little olive oil drizzled on them. When they are almost done, add blue cheese to the hollows for the last couple of minutes so that it will melt. Put them on top of a simple salad of lettuce and a little vinegar, then add pecans and chives, and drizzle honey over everything.

It’s a very unique side that set off our steak quite fabulously. Very fresh and summery tasting!

Speaking of summer, today was the first day of fresh corn of the year! It came from the farmers’ market, since ours is far from ready. Cut it off the cob and cook it in a non-stick skillet with a little butter for a simple but delicious side.

ImageWhen corn is fresh it really makes all the difference! Of course this is true for any produce – thank goodness for gardens and farmers’ markets! Check for local markets in your area. You won’t be sorry!

Window Frog

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Window Frog

In the summer, the many insects that live out here in the country are drawn to the light coming from our windows at night. These, in turn, draw these cute little frogs. They stick to the window, as you see here, and crawl along munching the insects. It’s pretty adorable.