August 03, 2007

Poetry Friday: Go and play till the light fades away

We are all of us, especially the kids, aware of the shortening days (dark comes around nine now, instead of eleven), and that the first day of school is just about one month away. I'm trying to make the most of what's left of the summer, which is why I haven't been online much, except to order some school supplies and things for Laura's birthday later this month.

The country fair is always a natural marker for folks around here. It means the end of summer and also, usually, the warm weather. But this year, though autumn is fast approaching, the heat remains. We've had an unusual four weeks now in the high eighties/low nineties and no rain, and the gardens and especially crops are beginning to burn and shrivel. The barley is turning white, and many farmers are considering swathing and baling it for cattle feed instead of combining it, since the grain heads won't amount to much. Though I have to admit that all the extra watering I have to do in the garden gives me that much more time to spend in it. The peas are ready and the beans are coming, and I'm about to pull up all the spinach, which has bolted, and seed some Swiss chard in its place.

And though we all roasted at the fair, it was a wonderful three days, a mini holiday for the five of us, as well as a chance for the kids to shine -- all three did exceptionally well in the exhibit hall, with lots of prizes (including firsts for Lego [a fire engine and fire, Monet's garden, and army fort], art work, handwriting, handmade greeting cards, wooden bird houses and tool boxes, grain and sheaves; and also at the chicken show (what's a country fair without chickens?); and, for Laura, in the show ring again with her heifer. On the midway, the boys were excited to discover they had grown tall enough for some of the previously off-limits rides with dangerous-sounding names -- the Zipper and the Scrambler. Friends -- other mothers -- and I camped out in the shade, with folding chairs and iced coffee, while our kids raced from the Tilt-a-Whirl to the bumper cars with ride-all-day bracelets on each slim wrist. And of course, the once-a-year binge of cotton candy, candy apples, homemade pie from the church booth,

The hot weather had an unexpected bonus; tidying up around the beef barn, the kids started gathering up recyclable cans and bottles. And there were lots of cans and bottles, especially water bottles. By the time the kids were done, after three days of the fair and the two clean-up days following, they had collected 12 garbage bags full -- worth much too much, it turns out, at the recycling station. It's all gone into our empty glass Mr. Peanut jar, pooled with the exhibit hall winnings, as part of the new collective horse fund. And the kids have been busy with living math, sharpening pencils and totting up the numbers to see just how much of a horse they might be able to afford at the moment. A surprisingly large percentage, it turns out.

And so, for Laura, Daniel, and David, in the waning days of summer -- leap and shout and laugh in the warm sunshine while you can:

Nurse's Song
by William Blake (1757-1827)

When the voices of children are heard on the green
And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast,
And everything else is still.

"Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,
And the dews of the night arise;
Come, come, leave off play, and let us away
Till the morning appears in the skies."

"No, no, let us play, for it is yet day,
And we cannot go to sleep;
Besides in the sky the little birds fly,
And the hills are all covered with sheep."

"Well, well, go and play till the light fades away,
And then go home to bed."
The little ones leaped and shouted and laughed;
And all the hills echo├ęd.

* * *

More William Blake, from the Tate Online.

And more Poetry Friday, with lovely lupines and the round-up at The Miss Rumphius Effect today. Thank you, Tricia!

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