At its height

This week has been filled with those perfect days we sometimes get in late August, when it feels like autumn at night yet becomes pleasantly hot by mid-day; when we are drawn outdoors to let the mellow sun drive the last of the New England cold out of our bones.

Summer is at its height: the parking lot for the Martha’s Vineyard ferry is as almost as full as you’ll ever see it; and there are as many cars as you’ll ever see over on State Pier near where the Cuttyhunk ferry docks.

A few tourists are even wandering around New Bedford, far from their usual haunts. Usually, tourists in New Bedford walk one block from the National Park’s visitor center down to the Whaling Museum, and then get back in their cars and drive away. But today, Carol and I saw several tourists in other, less-touristy, areas. We saw a man pushing a stroller on Macarthur Drive near Fisherman’s Wharf, where he was accosted by one of the more insistent panhandlers (the fellow who once, when I told him I didn’t have any money for him, screamed at me: “Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit!”). Only a perfect summer day could draw a tourist to walk along Macarthur Drive.

If I had any doubt that summer is at its height, at it sfull glory right now, that doubt would have been eradicated by the farmer’s market on Thursday. While I stood in line at each farmer’s table, waiting my turn, I looked over the biggest diversity of produce we’ll see all year: blueberries, plums, peaches, pears, summer apples, cataloupe; broccoli, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow straightneck squash, patty-pan squash, acorn squash, lettuce, kale, collards, pole beans, bush beans, garlic; gladiolas, sunflowers, and other cut flowers. There were so many things for sale I’ve forgotten them all.

Summer is at its height, yet the sun sets three minutes earlier every day; I keep getting surprised by how soon it grows dark. Summer is at its height, but yesterday I planted some more fall flowers, white and red chrysanthemums, and tied up the asters. And today I seeded our tiny little raised-bed garden with a fall planting of Swiss chard.