August is a really wonderful time to be in a northern clime. I always got homesick for Fairbanks about this time of year when I lived in hot places. Now that I am in Montana, it's almost like being there. In some ways, possibly even nicer.
The days are warm, but almost never uncomfortable. (Never too hot to bake if you fancy, for example, a banana cake with penuche frosting after you go over to volunteer at the food bank with a bunch of church people and the director is desperately trying to give out black bananas because what food bank director could stand to waste bananas?) It's in the 80s Fahrenheit. Like a perfect May day in California, except with no pollution. The air is as clear as a polished window. Clearer.
A thunderstorm may or may not roll through in the late afternoon or early evening. Big drops splash on the roof of my patio and make a lot of wonderful noise. Afterward I can smell the spruce trees in the backyard mixing with that clean rain smell and it's pretty near heaven. The birds sing up in those trees and I wish I could see them better. My K, who is now 7, says he can see a nest.
Flowers are tumbling gloriously everywhere, from hanging baskets and beds and anyplace people can put them. It's going to be white and gray here for a long time. Like in Alaska, people in Montana know how to enjoy color and scent in summer. My garden is pretty shabby this year because I was gone so long. Just some salvia and sage blossoms and nasturtiums. Petrovskia struggling along and not blooming. But the nasturtiums are only starting to get good and I sure do love them and look forward to them. My strawberry patch is thriving.
Speaking of berries, let's change the topic to cherries. My sweet 90-something across-the-street neighbor, Louise, called me over after I brought the kids back from swimming at the YMCA this afternoon. She gave me a huge bowl of cherries, and they are not just any old cherries. These sweet, burgundy-black beauties are from the Flathead Valley. They are the best I've had since I was a little girl on a ladder, picking cherries from a huge, overgrown tree in the yard of a hundred-year-old house in Ogden where my family lived for a couple of years. The cherries I ate tonight were picked this morning. You can't beat that.
We went for a family hike tonight up Maud S Canyon which is so convenient to town and amazingly beautiful. It has been a wet year and a lot of plants are still green that would be dried out in a normal year, all nestled in around the big boulders on the mountainside. And there are tons of sweet little flowers, thistle and baby's breath and different kinds of clovers and fireweed and cowslip and other things I don't know how to identify yet. It was pretty spectacular, and to top it off we got the most amazing sunset.
We traveled a lot this summer. We had a wonderful time. It is good to be home.