And so another summer comes to an end.
I’m good with that. Summer is my least favorite season. I feel that after living in Texas and Tennessee for five years each, I’ve done my time in mind-meltingly hot weather and oppressive humidity.
Wouldn’t it be nice if reality actually worked like that? But, no.
Lest you think it’s all curmudgeon all the time around here, there are things about summer that I like.
It’s nice to have no particular schedule to adhere to. If the kids make it to swimming lessons, great! If I call an audible and decide to spent the morning in my jammies, no big deal. We can go to the library _ or not. It’s all loosey-goosey.
Granted, after a few weeks of this, my innate scheduler is sighing loudly and looking at her watch _ but I shan’t dwell on that. This is about the good parts of summer.
I love that we have more freedom to pack up and go away. During the school year, our academic jobs and the kids’ school schedules make it nearly impossible to get out of town without Normandy Beach level logistics.
When the kids were younger, we would simply pull them out of school to satisfy our wanderlust. Now we’re in the meat of their academic lives. Yes, they can miss a day or two here and there _ but it’s really best not to.
Which isn’t to say that if some kind, benevolent soul gave us an all-expenses paid trip to Europe that had to be taken in October, I wouldn’t find a way to make it work. Because I’m not a total fool.
Now that the kids are older, we’ve developed a few traditions that I’d miss if summer suddenly dropped out of the year.
I would feel bereft without several hours spent reading while waiting for the end of swimming lessons or T-ball games.
It’s fun to mosey around the park while talking about nothing more important than the probability of rain. Also, I can kick both kids and the dog outside without fear that they’ll freeze.
I can plan whole menus around foods that can be grilled, which is, perhaps, my favorite method of cooking because I’m not responsible for doing it.
What I will miss the most, however, will be the caterpillars.
I’m not sure how this started. Perhaps it was suggested by my father-in-law, a retired second-grade teacher. Perhaps my husband is responsible because he saw a milkweed plant on a golf course. Or maybe the idea simply coalesced out of the heavy July air.
The origin matters not.
Every summer since the Diva was a toddler, we’ve collected monarch caterpillar eggs, which we nurture through their hatching and eating and chrysalising and emerging stages. It is one of the world’s easiest biology demonstrations and one that only requires minimal diligence.
Valuable kitchen counter space is eaten up by every last glass vase, jar or storage container that can be repurposed as a rookery. Extra milkweed leaves stack up on our deck, should there be a dining emergency. For the caterpillars, of course.
And every dang summer, I swear it will be the last one for this mess and madness. It’s enough to keep the dog and the cats and the kids alive. Why ask for more trouble?
And every dang summer, the same moment changes my mind.
I get how caterpillars work. They are, essentially, digestive systems with eyes whose sole directive is to eat as much milkweed as possible. They go from sesame-seed-sized to nearly thumb-length in a matter of weeks. They eat and eat and eat and eat until they just can’t eat no more.
What I don’t get is how the transformation works. This munching machine hangs itself upside down, splits its skin, reveals the green chrysalis that was underneath, and ... what?
My sense of wonder, long dulled by years of being an adult, is reawakened each time this happens. I would be less astounded if a bear came out of hibernation as a house cat or a gerbil. Each still has four legs and fur; the biggest change is one of scale.
The same can’t be said for caterpillars and butterflies. They don’t share that many components, really. Which says nothing about the wings.
Part of me wants to know what goes on behind the green curtain _ do the insect’s innards completely dissolve? are there bits that remain? where does it all go? _ but most of me enjoys the mystery too much to spoil it.
No matter how many times we do it, I am perennially astounded when I discover an actual butterfly hanging from the top of the jar. Every. Time.
I’m sure there’s some great analogy that can be made between this and parenting, about how kids are nothing but eating machines whose transformations are also mysteries, etc. There is truth in that.
But without my kids, I wouldn’t have had the chance to experience the simple wonder that takes place on my kitchen counter every summer. It almost makes the rest of the season worthwhile.
Adrienne Martini is a freelance writer, instructor at the State University College at Oneonta, mom to Maddy and Cory, wife to Scott, and author of “Sweater Quest.” Her columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/
And so another summer comes to an end.
Back to nature
"The peace of the hills is about me and upon me; the leisure of the summer clouds, whose shadows I see slowly drifting across the face of the landscape, is mine. The dissonance and the turbulence and the stench of cities -- how far off they seem! The noise and dust, and the acrimony of politics -- how completely the hum of the honey-bee, and the twitter of the swallows blot them out!"Continued ...
- If you go
Raise a glass
The popularity of small-batch adult beverages is intensifying in upstate New York.Continued ...
Thick hot air and clammy clothes entice brisk visions of jumping into a pool of refreshing water. Plunging into the soft cool environment of good old-fashioned H2O can rejuvenate the soggy mind.Continued ...
Racing Under Saddle
Those looking for the thrill of watching live horse racing will not have to travel outside the region this summer.Continued ...
- Back to nature
- Around The Arts
Glimmerglass director offers employment tips for arts grads
So, in a few short weeks you're graduating with an arts degree. Now what?! In the safety of college, one can ignore the realities of the outside world, where housing and meal allowances aren't rolled into a tuition payment and jobs aren't available simply because you're a student.Continued ...
Volunteers are the SWAT of the arts world
When you work at an arts organization, particularly a nonprofit, employees often wear many hats -- accomplishing the duties that appear in the traditional job description, and then some. It happens everywhere. It's a running joke among people who work at nonprofits. There is too much to do, and not enough people to do it. That's when you call in the back up -- SWAT if you will.Continued ...
Let creativity flow with unstructured art projects
As I sit here writing this, the holiday glow is still going strong (my column deadline is two weeks before the publication date), and I've been spending a great deal of time not only with my daughter, but her stuff. We're incredibly lucky to have a loving network of family and friends that spoil her, so I've been merging her new goodies with her old.Continued ...
Opportunities abound for career in the arts
I was recently asked to speak at a local high school about my career path and how I came to work in the arts. It was interesting speaking with these seniors, and discussing their hopes for life after high school.Continued ...
The art of the appraisal explained by one who knows
So often in this column my co-writer, Brittany, and I talk about how art is everywhere and can be appreciated by all. Perhaps because of my passion for everyday art, there is one part of the art world I just cannot grasp -- art appraisal. How can you put a value on something so seemingly subjective? So, I set out to learn more about this industry.Continued ...
- Glimmerglass director offers employment tips for arts grads
- Music Beat
Oneonta student looks to take music industry training in different direction
At a recent concert reception in New York City, I was surprised to meet people who had imminent plans to move to the Otsego-Delaware county area. They explained that our area is so rich in musical and graphic arts that they knew they would enjoy living here.Continued ...
- Music Industry Tips
Complete education involves classroom, real-world learning
There is new, long overdue attention being paid in our institutions of higher education to the use of directed practical experience as an essential partner to the classroom lecture.Continued ...
- Music Industry tips
Copyright royalties can make you smile
A few years ago, I wrote an article on the skill and dedication necessary to become a songwriter.Continued ...
- Oneonta student looks to take music industry training in different direction
- Parenting Imperfect
Oh, just to be able to savor an English muffin
All I wanted to do was eat my English muffin. The family had other plans.Continued ...
A reminder of the small-child years
It's amazing how quickly you forget what earlier stages of parenting are like. This is probably a blessing -- and one that only evolved after countless generations of parents only had one child because they could remember each stage too clearly.Continued ...
Well, at least she's listening to what I say
The older the kids get, the happier I am that we have a dog. She, at least, seems to be excited to see me when I get home.Continued ...
I want to visit the world of 'The Pioneer Woman'
It is a double-edged sword, this whole having kids old enough to leave home alone for short periods of time thing.Continued ...
It is in February when the breaking point is reached
If I could edit the calendar, the two months I'd do away with are August and February.Continued ...
- Oh, just to be able to savor an English muffin
- Senior scene
As Time Goes By: I'm trying to be the rockin' up-to-date 'cool dude' grandpa
Time flies at my house. If I sit down to write an article, I can't help but see that I have an inbox of unread letters in my email. My brain records this as saying in block letters "YOU GOT MAIL."Continued ...
From the Office: Seniors need to work to keep their brains healthy, too
As we age, both our bodies and our brains face changes. How these changes affect us are determined by genes, environment and lifestyle.Continued ...
Looking Back: We should all cherish our time with our families
Time marches on, and it seems like a different lifetime since we brought up our own children.Continued ...
As Time Goes By: I'm hearing voices -- and not only mine own
There are two problems that seem to be inherit to growing older, which when viewed in the context of a sentence appear to be opposites but are in truth part of the same problem â€"you either are getting deaf or you start talking to things that surround you.Continued ...
- From the Office: What you need to know about Affordable Care Act, Medicaid redesign
- As Time Goes By: I'm trying to be the rockin' up-to-date 'cool dude' grandpa
- Tech, GP
Thankful hard-disk shortage is about over, and counting my blessings
Well, I'm almost ready to let out a cheer.Continued ...
Businesses need backups for their computer people, systems
In the interest of full disclosure, I want to let you know that I have taken a new position, professionally. I recently joined Eastman Associates, a local general contractor, to do its IT work, as well as taking care of some other functions of the business.Continued ...
Windows 8 seems to be made for the good of Microsoft, not the user
By Bruce Endries The software company everybody loves to hate, Microsoft, recently released what it calls a "consumer preview" of their next operating system, Windows 8.Continued ...
The Granite State got it right on software purchases
Believe it or not, I have found a bright spot in the political landscape, amid all the vitriolic partisan fighting.Continued ...
Visit a construction site and you'll probably find an iPad
It was just about two years ago now, that the iPad came out, and I wrote a column about it. At that time, I went out on a limb and said that thought it was a product which would fill certain niches very well, but that it wasn't very likely to fill in for what is normally considered a computer.Continued ...
- Thankful hard-disk shortage is about over, and counting my blessings
- Teen Talk
Teenhood Today: I long for furniture, hills, rice
Why hello there, upstate New York! I must say, it's a little weird going to a restaurant, to the store, or to the local meetings for individuals loving the color lime green without being asked if I'm the girl from the newspaper.Continued ...
A Word of Advice: What's new isn't always what's better
We're often told in life that we should try to experience everything we can, broaden our horizons, and even I have written columns about stepping away from the familiar in hopes of growing.Continued ...
On the Go: Mile markers of life can be painful, but enjoy them
Our insignificance is crippling.Continued ...
Weekend Reviews: 'Cherry' perfectly captures my feelings
School has finally dwindled to a close, and I can feel myself settling into a state of unperturbed relaxation, everything once again becoming slow and lethargic, the days going by with an air of hazy wistfulness.Continued ...
Teenhood Today: Don't expect expectations to always be fulfilled
In case some of you haven't noticed, I'm not a huge animal person. Sorry to all of you animal-lovers, but you most likely won't ever see me at any secret meetings you may hold.Continued ...
- Teenhood Today: I long for furniture, hills, rice