The days have been rainy, which means I can't kayak. That's a little unfortunate in the short-term, but I know that soon enough rain will be scarce, so I've been enjoying the sound of the water coming down and the sight of jewel-like drops on leaves.
Two counts of closure today. The first: I received the final letter in the process of my performance evaluation at work, and I am glad-glad-glad that this particular chapter can be closed. The second: My Myrrha article is now officially published, another chapter in the Life of Me that I am happy has come to an end (and a good end at that).
And one sighting: As Chris and I were driving along some backroads after lunch today, he stopped the jeep and backed up. We got out and watched two dung beetles roll their ball (yes, their ball of dung) across the road. It was amazing. Really. Amazing.
I was lucky to walk around Lake Saint Francis so often during my time in Loretto, but I'm glad to be able to kayak on Beaverfork Lake again. I went out this morning. (This is a cloud reflected and distorted on the water.)
A little time spent reading the New York Times Book Review over lunch.
It was my last full day in Loretto, and I visited the dogwood trees on the Schwab estate. Back in April I had dogwood visitation day in Arkansas, and I feel lucky that I got to have it twice this year, since Pennsylvania was about 5-6 weeks behind Arkansas in the unfolding of spring.
My mother was curious about whether the flower of the dandelion plant could be eaten, so we checked online and found a recipe for dandelion fritters. And then we made them, eating them with maple syrup and Arkansas honey.
I love the little town I grew up in, and it's been interesting to spend the past 5 weeks back in it. I'm getting ready to return to Arkansas, so it's time to start saying farewell to favorite sights. And that includes the water tower just outside town--it was built by steel tycoon Charles Schwab as part of his summer estate, and so that it would fit into the estate's architecture, it was constructed to look like a little castle. We called it "Camelot" when we were younger. Today I noticed that the bike route signs in town have an icon of it:
"Igel" is the German word for "hedgehog" and the name of a German cake shaped and decorated to look like a hedgehog. My mother and I made the cake for a dessert gathering with another family in the neighborhood, and it helped set the stage for a fun and sweet evening.
My mother's neighbor called us after dinner to let us know that if we went out of the house and looked east we'd see a rainbow. The rainbow was great. The neighbor is even greater.
My mother and I were discussing the possibility of making shortbread cookies, and she was worried that we no longer had the stamps we used for pressing designs into shortbreads and peanut-butter cookies when I was young. But we poked around and found them in the same little calico bag I remembered them being stored in. I was so happy to see them again--and now we have to make shortbread cookies for sure.
There's a weeping willow tree in my mother's yard now. It wasn't there when I was growing up (decades ago), so it surprises me every time I see it. It's beginning to leaf, and today I sat under its umbrella while I read in the afternoon and participated in a conference call in the early evening.
I heard today that an article I wrote (which has had a long and bizarre road to publication) has received the final approval for print. Given the length and bizarre-ness of the road so far, I can't quite believe that this is for real, but I think it might be. It would be nice to have some closure on a project before the start of new summer work.
My mother and I went out to dinner with our neighbors, also a mother-daughter pair. We ate at a little pub (Breaker Boys) in a little town (Colver, Pennsylvania), and it was lovely. Then we came back to our house and played cards while eating dessert and telling stories. A good night.
On my way back from the lake this morning, there were two baby groundhogs at the top of a little hill. I've seen adult groundhogs at the bottom of the hill in the past, but I was still surprised to see such young ones out and about in the world. I was also worried since there is a road very nearby and the babies didn't seem to know what's what. I shooed them away from the road and down the hill, hopefully back to home and safety. (One of them took quite a bit of shooing/coaxing, giving me a chance to take a picture.)
My mother and I watched The Invisible Woman. The construction of the story seemed askew in ways, but the costumes and cinematography were gorgeous. And the actress who played Mrs. Dickens did a wonderful job.
Teaberry is one of my favorite frozen custard flavors, but I've never seen it offered anywhere beyond this little pocket of Pennsylvania. The local frozen custard business had teaberry on its menu of daily specials twice in the past week, and I've gone both times.
One of my mother's neighbors who is also a good childhood friend of mine locked herself out of her car today while it was running. Obviously, that is not a good thing. But I was able to help her get back into her car, and it felt good to do something useful for her after all the wonderful help and support she has given me over the years as well as recently.
I think two of the things I will especially remember about this long stay in Loretto are the goldfinches and the dandelions.
Today there were more than 2 dozen goldfinches in the forsythia bush and on the bird feeders outside my mother's kitchen window. Just amazing to watch.
And it's definitely the height of dandelion season here. I've kept taking close-up photos of them, and I am love-love-loving their intricacy and geometry.