Friday, September 15, 2023

Things in August

There seems to be a great societal debate about what constitutes "fall". I'm of the belief that weather dictates fall; if it's 97 degrees in September, as it has been, it is not fall, I don't care how many pumpkin spice flavored items the store puts out. There are also people for whom fall is merely a state of mind, the end of August being fair game for spooky and autumn decor. Which type are you?

Let's travel back to August, a quintessential summer month. The first week was spent at a lake in Virginia with my entire family: 8 adults and 7 kids from 2-9 years old. All of the kids cried at least twice, as so happens when the cousins live off marshmallows and exhaust themselves playing. They did have a great time running around in a pack and swimming in the lake; as per usual, the adults continued to cook, clean, do laundry, and break up fights just like at home.

No one complained about being cold. Because this lake is HOT. Now is when I tell you that's used for cooling a nuclear power plant, but that's fine. Right? The water is nearly 90 degrees, which is just a little cooler than a hot tub. You had to get out of the water to cool off. I love kayaking almost more than anything, and I was able to escape a few times out on to the water. Other than that, we stayed at the rental house most of the time, due to the impossibility of wrangling that many people.

After vacation #1, we came back home for a week, then packed up and left again for vacation #2. Now that the kids are a little older, we took the risk of driving 8+ hours to western Massachusetts (the Berkshires area.) I just love New England, with the beautiful scenery, history, and architecture. The girls were surprisingly cool with all the old houses we visited. The first house we visited was Naumkeag, which definitely had the best gardens. And that view!

They had several cut flower gardens, which I examined closely. Their zinnias looked great; I definitely need to grow some lime colored ones next year.

Our rental house was on a lake! I spent as much time as possible on the screened porch looking at this soothing view. Although - photos lie. There is a highway on the other side of the hill, and it was quite loud with traffic day and night. Otherwise, this might have been my perfect lake spot. The lake was fairly small which meant no motorboat traffic. I even went kayaking a few times and was the only person on the water. {Sidenote: My dream lake is in the woods, free from motorized boats and annoying neighbors, and quiet. If you know this place, let me know! I have yet to find it.}

The mornings were consistently misty and rainy, but the view remained beautiful.

The quaint and quirky house was built in 1925. It was so charming and cozy on the inside. My favorite part of vacations is getting to stay in different and unique houses, and this one did not disappoint. If only we could have transported it away from the road!

We also visited a mansion called Ventfort Hall. Despite its imposing presence, only portions of the interior have been restored. There were no gardens at all! Eventually this will be an amazing place to visit, so check it out in about 10 years.

My main reason for wanting to visit the area was to see Edith Wharton's home, the Mount. Wharton is one of my favorite classic authors, and because of her interest in interior and garden design, I've wanted to visit for years. The house did not disappoint! Of the homes we visited, this one was the most well-preserved and presented. There were ample signs explaining the history of the home and about Wharton's life.

The gardens were smaller than I had imagined, but still very well done. We even lucked out with a blue sky when we visited.

The lake house came with kayaks and a paddleboat, which were a hit. After one try, the kids refused to swim in the lake that was filled with vegetation, so the boats were used every day. Mary completed her first solo kayak outing!

Our final destination of the vacation was to the Hancock Shaker Village. Oh, I loved it! Don't get me wrong, I prefer to live in an era with antibiotics, but the idea of making your own living and creating your own buildings, food, baskets, textiles, and tools is completely fascinating. 

Particularly dangerous for me was weaving on this loom. Mary even tried it out. Why dangerous? Have you met a fiber enthusiast? I might be a prolific knitter and already own two spinning wheels, but that hasn't stopped me researching looms. There is very likely one in the cards for me.

At this point I should mention that I had been starting to feel sick with a sore throat. I was tired and hot while walking around the buildings, more so than the temperature would cause. So yes, my friends, it turns out I caught Covid on this vacation. Whomp whomp. I managed to escape its claws for over 3 years, but it finally caught me. It was miserable riding back in the car for 9 hours the next day, with only gas station toilet paper to blow my nose with. Luckily, no one else got sick despite being trapped in the car with me for an entire day.

The flowers continued to bloom, but took a hit from the super dry summer and heat. I had a wonderful friend come water a few times while we were gone to ensure their survival. I'm going to take some time this winter to really think about how much work I can afford (time-wise) to put into my flower business. I was incredibly busy this summer, often working at least an hour in the evenings after working a full day at my job and attending to children. 

And then, just like that, summer was over. BOTH kids are in elementary school this year. I won't lie, leaving the daycare that we have been going to for over 9 years was emotional. Some of the same teachers and staff helped raise both girls, and we'll miss them. On the bright side, I've gained an hour and a half of time back every day because I don't have to drop off and pick up, and we don't don't have that large bill every week.

The fact that this point is coming halfway in September shows how the month is going. With back to school and everyone scheduling work meetings after labor day, I haven't had a spare minute! My job is very meetings based (unfortunately) and it's not uncommon to have blocks of 3 hours with no break. But, I do have a short trip coming up that I am very much looking forward to. I hope you are all back in the swing of things!


  1. The vacation spots, the flowers - it all looks lovely! And a warm lake - YES PLEASE. I love swimming but get cold so fast, so basically avoid all bodies of water now. The idea of a lake close to hot tub temperature sounds like a dream come true for me.

    Leaving preschool is emotional, but I have to admit I LOVED how convenient it felt to only have one schedule to juggle. Suddenly the kids are off on all the same days/start and stop at the same time/ and have a single place to be dropped off and picked up. We have a few more years of this before our daughter hits high school and then it's two separate spots again :(

    1. I'm really curious if the lake stays as warm during the winter... that would be amazing! Having to only deal with one school has been great so far. We'll only have 2 years of this because of the kids' ages, so I intend to enjoy it as much as possible.

  2. Oh wow, those are gorgeous houses and gardens! I did not ever think about a lake used for cooling a nuclear power plant, but am very intrigued by the thought of a hot lake. I have always only been in lakes that are chilly. I guess that's Canada! I think you would like the lake my parents live on - there are definitely neighbours and motorized boats, but the mornings are perfectly calm and there are always people enjoying kayaking and paddle boarding. Of course, the lake is COLD, but we can't have everything!
    I am with you on the thought that weather dictates the season. When I was in Calgary, November was firmly a winter month, March - and even April - were also winter. So it will be interesting to see what happens for me here. September feels like a fall month but it's so warm here now!

    1. I grew up vacationing at lakes in New England, so I definitely associate them with being cold. I don't think that stopped us as kids, though. I always associates lakes with coziness, so it was very odd to not having that feeling. September is still summer here - and I always have to remind myself that April is still a cold month. I hope you get to enjoy the warm temps more in your new house!

  3. Fall is when kids go back to school for me. They are officially all back now, so here we are. I'm sort of sad about it this year in a way that I haven't been in the past. But I have yet to put out fall decor or drink a PSL. Baby steps towards acceptance.

    1. The years just seem to go so fast, don't they? I hate being cold so I'm always reluctant to give up summer. I don't put out any autumn decor until October.

  4. We went to the Hancock Shaker Village last year! We were on a road trip to Montreal and on the way back stopped to visit a friend who lives about 15 minutes away, across the state line in New York. We were there about an hour before it closed so there wasn't a whole lot going on, but I loved the round barn and there was a turbine demonstration that was really cool and really loud. Funny you should talk about a loom - that friend that I was visiting has a loom sitting in her house that someone had gifted her. She hasn't had time to figure out how to use it yet, but is very excited to get to it.
    I'm glad September seems to be cooling off now. Hope it is going well for you. How sweet is the picture of your kids going hand in hand to the bus!

    1. What a fun coincidence! Your friend is so lucky to have been gifted a loom - they can be pricey. Luckily there are tons of YouTube channels now devoted to weaving, which makes it so much more accessible than it used to be.

  5. Double vacations sound great. Looks like you all had a good time in Virginia and New England. Sorry to hear about the Covid and hope you are feeling better now.

    1. Thankfully my case of Covid wasn't too bad and I was over it in about a week. I think next year I'll space out our trips better because it felt like a lot of packing and re-packing!


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