Sunday, July 28, 2013

Blueberries and free Shakespeare: Oh, how I love summer!

Every July for a number of years now, my former coworker Eileen has invited a group of teacher friends to come to her neck of the woods to pick blueberries and have lunch together.
Eileen lives near the beautiful Battenkill Valley in Washington County, New York, and we always go to the MacClan Farm with its charming Gardenworks farm store to pick our berries.

After picking my fill of blueberries, I like to have a visit with the chickens...

...and the sheep...

 ... and then browse my way through the shop.

Like me, Eileen, here on the right, is now retired. Her neighbor, Sue, on the left, will retire at the end of this next school year.

Over the years, our conversations have evolved from news of our children to stories about our grandchildren.

But much else remains comfortably the same. We gather our wonderful blueberries, catch up with old friends, and adjourn to Eileen's home overlooking Cossayuna Lake to eat delicious vegetable lasagna and a dessert that always involves fresh blueberries. On this day, a great blue heron posed prettily for us just off shore from Eileen's deck.
When I return home, I always freeze most of the blueberries I've picked. Throughout the coming winter, I will occasionally make Sunday morning blueberry pancakes. On a cold January day, how I will savor the taste of summer blueberries from the Battenkill Valley, picked with friends.
Last night, the Handsome Husband and I headed out to Congress Park in downtown Saratoga Springs.

Our destination was an outdoor performance by the Saratoga Shakespeare Company.

Neither of us had ever seen The Merry Wives of Windsor before, so it was a new experience. This version was set in 1920s Saratoga and they worked in some racetrack elements. Not enough so that it was intrusive, but seemed to me a good choice for a casual summer outdoor audience.
 Many folks brought picnics and everyone seemed relaxed and content.

 Congress Park is itself a lovely spot, with its duck ponds ...

 ... and architectural elements and..

... its well-tended gardens.

Today, Sunday afternoon, is the final performance of Merry Wives, but the company plans to return next year. If you've never been, make a note to check them out next summer. And don't forget to bring a picnic supper. It truly makes for a lovely, elegant way to spend a summer evening.