July 2023: Summer Brights
Updated: Sep 1
We had a remarkable stretch of gorgeous, temperate weather from mid-May to the end of June. July brought the humidity and high heat I expect of summer, along with mosquitos, the hum of air conditioning, and thunder from storms scattered all around.
At the beginning of the month, we spent a week in Mattituck on the North Fork of Long Island, where we got to unplug, hear the quiet, and hang around family. Jasper’s first beach visit was on this trip, and we learned that he really really loves a pool.
Lately everything has felt slower and less urgent, and afternoons are drowsiest this time of year. It's tempting to stay indoors as much as possible to avoid the heat, but we've made good on the desire to do things here and there.
Today we took Jasper and Sunday, wagon in tow, to the farmer's market, and picked up a watermelon, some peaches, green beans, pastries and bread, and cherry tomatoes. Some of the best produce is in season now, and the market was made extra colorful by the bunches of sunflowers, cosmos, zinnias, and wild chicory on offer.
Below, a July recap and thoughts as we turn the calendar page.
The North Fork
We stayed in the town of Mattituck, which is about an hour and a half away by car, and it was our first time on the North Fork. We found it to have the small-town feel that Montauk used to before it became gentrified and scene-y, and that was nostalgic for us.
We spent much of our time hanging around the pool, and cooked most of our own meals. When we ventured out, we visited a few wineries, which are abundant in the area, and stopped at various farm stands and shops which were all very easy drives (with hardly anyone else on the road) from our AirBnB.
Some notable stops we made:
Love Lane - an adorable street with a well known restaurant, a grocery and market, a donut shop, a cheese shop, and a gift shop.
LUMBER + Salt - such a cool find. I got an iced rose chai latte and perused the vintage finds and odds and ends while waiting for my order.
Magic Fountain - this ice cream shop always has a line, but it moves quickly. Jasper saw the bright blue Cookie Monster flavor and we let him have a scoop of it on a cone. I tried not to think about the amount of food coloring he was ingesting and focused instead on the pure joy evident on his face. (TMI - One of the moms in line told me that it comes out blue too, and she was right.)
Veteran's Beach - a local beach that wasn't too crowded when we were there. The sand can be uncomfortably rocky but smooths out once you're in the water, which at late morning was shallow for many yards out.
Black Sheep Bagels - we picked up bagels here one day (they were great) and some of us got large iced coffees (with coffee ice cubes!) that were comically oversized.
Red Rooster - our only dinner for which we'd made a reservation, this popular place with quirky decor had some amazing food that came in generous portions.
I spent much of last month slowly sculpting three vases inspired by sea-life, using a new clay body that I’ll need to slow fire when glazing. I don’t plan on glaze firing these for some time - I want to have a full kiln’s worth of pieces made from this clay first.
I’ve been fulfilling orders and slowly restocking between recycling porcelain, mixing glaze, and waiting and waiting and waiting for pieces with delicate joins to dry.
This month, I sculpted a set of vases with experimental windows cut out of them, threw a batch of porcelain tumblers for my dad to paint on, and mixed up another batch of charcoal glaze to continue working on those large scale pieces I've sold. I’ve spent some time doodling in my notebook as well, revisiting previous entries and sitting with my ideas for longer.
July is a crucible for my garden, when the unrelenting sun threatens to dry everything out. The nasturtium on our patio was brown at the edges by the time we returned from Mattituck but watering and recent rain has helped it to recover. There's even one orange flower in blossom right now.
Our sugar snap peas got weed-whacked by our landscapers, but the bush beans are growing very well - I’ve harvested enough to share with my mom. We’ve seen our very first cosmos and zinnia flowers, the gladioluses are showing off their tropical colors, and a third tiny Icelandic poppy is about to bloom.
My watermelon vine is spreading quickly, and I've even discovered a second suspected watermelon plant growing out of the large pot where our basil lives. No fruit that I can see yet though. The fig tree is staging a comeback from the ground up, growing wide and low, but I don’t expect any fruit this year. We have, however, been able to enjoy cherry tomatoes and strawberries here and there.
I trimmed our basil recently, which yielded a large haul and so I've been making nectarine, basil, and feta salads.
At two and a half, Jasper's speech is developing at lightening speed, and I wish I could record everything he says. He's adorable and articulate and this phase is especially wonderful. I'm trying my hardest to savor and imprint this season in my mind.
July has meant Jasper advancing classes at daycare, a transition that's been hard on him but which he's slowly working through. I'm so proud of him for being able to talk to us about his feelings, and thankful for the teachers at daycare who support and comfort him when he's feeling uneasy. We talk about it at the beginning and end of each day.
Bedtime for us, for a long time now, has been me camping out beside his crib until he goes to sleep. We talk, sing, and hold hands and I always enjoy this part of my evening. I love being there as he decompresses from his day, and often I'll gain insight as to what he is working through and processing in that little head of his.
Kev does the morning wake up, and gets to spend 1-1 time with Jasper then. We used to alternate mornings, but since switching to primarily me at night and primarily Kev in the morning, we've noticed that Jasper's previously overtly lopsided preference for me has evened out, and that has been a happy result for all of us.
Et Alia as we head into August
Kev ordered a star projector and Jasper has loved to look at the stars while sitting on the sofa together with the lights off. It’s a lovely way to spend some quiet time close together.
I've been making smoothies again with Trader Joe's frozen fruit packs, Greek yogurt, almond milk, almond butter, and honey. These are a treat and they help me stay cool.
There was a moment this morning when there was almost a chill in the air. For the first time in weeks the temperature was in the high 60's. I caught myself thinking It'll be nice when fall comes, and that, there, was me beginning to open up to the next transition.