It feels like I've spent most of the summer complaining about it being summer. It was too hot, the mosquitoes sucked, it was smokey, blah blah blah. And it was all true, and it was annoying. However, now that we're in the slow descent toward autumn I'm finally getting a chance to enjoy summer. Weird, I know. It's not as hot, the bugs aren't as atrocious, and most of the smokiness is gone, though.
I've gone berry picking twice with friends, netting about a gallon and a half of blueberries and a cup or so of raspberries. So far. We're definitely going to be doing more berry picking before the season ends, so I'm happy. A freezer full of yummy local berries sounds heavenly, doesn't it?
We bought some (non-organic) blueberries at Fred's the other day because they were ridiculously on sale. After eating a few of them, having gone berrying the day before and eating a few of those berries, it reminded me of exactly why I think that the local berries are so incredibly superior. Sure, they're much smaller. They stain your hands. They can be rather tart. But the cultivated berries are missing one major thing: flavor. I ate a handful and wondered, why on earth did I ever enjoy store-bought blueberries? They're watery little bits of nothing in blue skin. Compared to the wild berries I'd been picking and eating, they were completely tasteless. Even when I put them into some pancakes, they just didn't taste like anything. We'll freeze what we have left of them for winter, and I'm certain we'll make things with them, but I'm just as certain that they'll be the last berries to go. We'll all pout when we finish the local berries. Which, really, is just more impetus for me to pick as many as possible. Can I get three gallons? Four? We'll see.
We had another trip down to Wasilla for another wedding, and it was wonderful. Great friends, great party, ecstatic bride and groom. What more could you ask for? It was at the bride's family's farm, so the setting was gorgeous. I always forget how much I miss the mountains until I'm in the Mat-Su Valley and they're right there. (Alaska says no to foothills. It's just mountains looming all around, looking imposing and impressive and gorgeous. It's the one thing about the Valley that I love.) Shane and I actually helped out quite a bit, trying to get it ready. When there was nothing else for me to do, a few times I ended up holding babies to help out their parents, who were in the wedding party or were in charge of someone in the wedding party, like the flower girl's mom. I feel a little silly, because at one point I ended up taking a nap on the couch in the house of these people I'd never met before, but I'm pretty sure everyone was sympathetic to that. (Who's going to wake up a pregnant woman?)
The one thing which I didn't like about the weekend is that we drove. so. freaking. much. Wasilla is set up horribly. It's so spread out that even if we'd brought our bikes down we would have spent much of the time driving because it just would have taken too long to get anywhere otherwise. We drove into Anchorage to help ferry supplies, like the alcohol (four kegs--we had only one and the wine in our vehicle) and food supplies (a family friend, who's a chef, did the catering, so they bought a lot of the supplies at Costco). We ended up making a trip to Value Village on Saturday morning because Shane's dress pants were from high school and while they're still plenty nice, they're a little tight in the waist. (Good guy husband--keeps himself in shape and can still fit into high school clothes a decade later.) We found a new (to us) pair of khakis and I even got to browse the baby girl outfits. Shane surprised me by holding up a dress and saying, "Um...this is really adorable. Can we get it?" A blue plaid jumper for a 1-year-old, for $1.99. Yep, we bought it. It just charmed the hell out of me to see my husband, who usually hates this kind of thing, looking hopeful over buying a dress for his baby girl.
The wedding itself was perfect. Oh, there were moments, as at every wedding. The ring bearer decided that he didn't want to walk sedately down the aisle, so he took off running out into the field (don't worry, he didn't actually have the rings) and the flower girl saw all the crowds and froze for about five minutes while her mom tried to coax her down the aisle. A plane flew overhead after the vows so we heard nothing until suddenly, "...man and wife. You may kiss your bride." But it was still lovely. And the party afterward was fantastic. We danced, we ate cake, we laughed and had a great time. There was beer-in-hand kickball (it was even fun just to be a spectator), pony rides for kids, board games, beer pong with a wine cork instead of a ping pong ball, and much merriment. I've been to weddings which were as good before, but none better.
Though it was an option, we decided not to camp out on the lawn that night. It was rainy, we would have had to set up the tent in the dark, and I didn't have a pillow. Instead, we stayed at our friend's parents' house. So nice of them to let us crash there!
But that missed camping opportunity, and the pictures of the bachelor party (which was a camp-out) really, really make me want to go camping. So we're hoping to get people together to go camping in a couple of weekends, before it gets too cold. We even want to combine it with both a birthday celebration and berry picking. If we can pull it off, it will be such a good time.
As I walked to work this morning, I got the "end of summer" vibe. It must have been the angle of the light, which really isn't that much different than it was last week. But combined with the chill in the air (I was still wearing a sleeveless blouse, so just a chill) it made me realize that autumn is rapidly approaching. I'm excited for it, as I always am. Autumn is my favorite season. And of course, this year I have even more to look forward to. So I'm not unhappy about summer ending, but I am trying to squeeze in as much summer activity as I can before it all winds down.