Today was a beautiful day. Cool, no humidity to speak of, just perfect mid-70's weather. Honestly I cannot remember the last time we had such a day.
But...we need rain. I know. It rained and rained and rained in April and May, and now I'm saying we need rain? It's true though. I suppose because there was so much rain earlier, the plants have shallow roots and they're drying out fast, especially after the terrible heat of the past two weeks. We watered a lot today and still need to do more. My baby cabbage plants gave up and died while I was away from home this weekend, and other plants we put in recently--like the celery--looked terrible this morning. We had to replant some tomato plants too.
This has not been a good year for vegetable gardens, but it seems to be shaping up as a stellar year for fruit. Larry brought in a nice batch of wild black raspberries yesterday evening and tonight I picked about a pint of blueberries. The apple, pear and peach trees are loaded. So if it rains enough and if the heat doesn't return with the force of last week, we might actually have a record fruit year.That seems to be the way with gardening. When one thing does poorly, another seems to step up and take its place.
We thought we left everything in good shape when we left for the WV Writers Conference on Friday. Goes to show what we know! At least we were able to be easy in our minds while we were away! The grass was mowed, gardens weeded, tomatoes staked and all the new plants looked great. Boy. Were we fooled.
But the writers conference was awesome. Would you believe I only attended one session and that was a reading by poet Barbara Smith and author Meredith Willis. I also presented a workshop on using ballads as source material for story writing, presented a reading of my poetry and a short story, and was one of six performers for an evening entertainment, so I really wasn't just goofing off. And on Saturday we had to leave the conference to go to Princeton, WV, about two hours away, where I performed for the annual Street Fair. We made it back late in the afternoon, just in time for the Smith/Willis reading so I went to that and then rested before the banquet and awards ceremony.
The annual writing contest awards are presented at the Saturday night banquet each year. I did not submit any work to the contest last year and this year very nearly skipped it again because I didn't feel I had anything fine-tuned enough for submission. But I buckled down to it the day before the deadline and got a few things in the mail. I won three honorable mentions, two for the same poem that I submitted in different categories. I was surprised because I didn't feel that my work was strong enough to win anything this year. Next year I'll have to do better.
After the awards there is always a bonfire gathering. This year some of the group moved off to another location--the musicians included. We joined them and had one of those evenings that will live long in our memories. It was very like a ceilidh, with music, singing, poems, stories, all circling around the group. I didn't want the evening to end and very nearly stayed up to greet the sunrise. I fell into bed around 4 am, knowing there would be no early morning workshops for me! We even missed breakfast but stayed for the conference wrap-up and clean-up.
Even though I did not go to a single workshop I brought home a wealth of inspiration and encouragement. Conversations with so many people, listening to writers reading their work, and just being in an environment of people dedicated to the art of writing was enough for me this year. I came home relaxed and renewed.
There was no time to sit back and rest though! This morning was the first of the summer library reading programs. I had packed everything before we left Friday so it was a fairly simple matter to load up this morning and head out. We were at the library by 9 am. This year I've developed a pretty extensive display because the theme (One world, Many Stories) lends itself to a wealth of rich display possibilities. I had flags, globes, rich fabrics, puppets, multicultural items, and more to display and discuss with the children. I brought my storybag--a child would select something from the bag and we told the story or sang the song connected with the item. Each item had a story from one of the seven continents--yes, even Antarctica is represented in the bag! The program has lots of opportunities for participation and we had a great time.
Back home after the program it was time to clean up, put away and work in the gardens. Now I think we're caught up again and I am ready for an interview with Melissa Rogers tomorrow for her West Virginia Storytelling Project. The rest of the week: storytelling Wednesday and Thursday, and the WV State Folk Festival Friday and Saturday.
With maybe a little jam-making in between. And a little weeding. And maybe some lavender wand-making.