The edge of summer

Pam
Pam Frampton
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“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.”

— L.M. Montgomery, “Anne’s House

of Dreams” (1917)  

My husband and I love to sit outside in our garden of an evening. Surrounded by roses, sitting at a bistro table in the stone circle we laid ourselves, we drink wine and enjoy the birdsong emanating from the maples and dogberry trees.

Evening grosbeaks and fat little juncos flit in and out of the dappled light, landing on branches that bob gently under their weight.

Life is beautiful and, for once, this summer, the weather has kept pace.

We have become spoiled by the abundance of sunny days. There have been so many fine evenings that our dear old pooch has morphed into Pavlov’s dog; he jumps up and down with unabashed joy at hearing the sound of ice cubes rattling in the galvanized ice bucket.

He knows that sitting outside means treats will be served and he bats at our arms imploringly when he wants another — a consummate mooch.

The mulch around the stone circle is littered with rose petals, which give up their heady scent in the heat.

In the herb garden, the oregano, pineapple mint and marjoram are as high as my waist; the thyme, with its delicate white flowers, has spread out into a fragrant mat that adds spice to the breeze.

Most of the lilies have bloomed and gone; the foxglove is spent. The groundcover in the rock garden, the forsythia, the weigela, the peonies, the irises — all are just memories now.

Gardening is a bittersweet pursuit in these parts. With the arrival of spring you can spot something new growing and budding practically every day.

By mid-August, there’s more withering than blooming. It’s an all-too-evident reminder that the dog days are probably behind us as another school year looms and, with it, shorter days and cooler nights.

But for now, there is still magic to be found in the garden.

A feast with friends

On a recent evening in the garden next door, at a party celebrating our neighbours’ wedding anniversary, a Chinese roasting box contains a whole pig that’s growing crisp beneath the coals.

There is Arctic char and huge bowls of salad; grilled chunks of pineapple marinated in rum and brown sugar, and platters of charcuterie and cheese.

Children’s laughter can be heard from inside the bouncy castle and the dog weaves happily between people’s feet, basking in the attention and scouring the lawn for dropped food. A shy little girl with blond hair and sparkling eyes asks if she can please feed him a piece of cheese.

On a table, a rustic miniature tree made from branches is hung with beautifully decorated gingerbread hearts — a Czech cultural tradition for special occasions shared by friends who live nearby.

There is noisy conversation and banter as four generations of party guests mingle.

Later, as the sky begins to darken, a soulful accordion player strolls through the crowd, his thoughts seemingly in some faraway place, oblivious to the little girl dancing happily in his wake.

The anniversary couple obliges the crowd with a waltz, stepping smartly across the lawn in each other’s embrace with a surety that comes from more than four decades of being together.

A rarity for Newfoundland nights, it is warm and still and mosquito-free. Content and with full bellies, there is little incentive for guests to leave the circle of conversation.

No one says it — at least not anyone I hear — but there is an implicitness that such exquisite evenings, filled with food and fine friends, are too few and should be savoured.

When it grows so dark that we can hardly make out our grey dog in the gloom, we reluctantly make our way home.

Summer, like the light, is fading, but we will keep it with us for as long as we can.

Pam Frampton is a columnist and The Telegram’s

associate managing editor.

She can be reached by email at

pframpton@thetelegram.com.

Twitter: pam_frampton

Organizations: House of Dreams

Geographic location: Arctic, Newfoundland

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  • R.O.K.
    August 18, 2012 - 19:44

    Pam, while we don't have or aspire to the attributes or ambiance you share with your garden, what we do have here in Kelligrews is 80 ft. frontage with just a couple of dogberry trees and a few burning bushes on a green lawn,( nurtured by a lawncare company). On an evening such as you describe we're content with a glass of wine (or two) and most notably peace and quiet. At the end of our dead-end street what was once the rural highway, thanks to thoughtless planning we'd need a lunch now waiting for a break in the traffic. We're content in the fact 1/8th of a km from the highway we're in another world altogether. We're thankful for that.