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Veeder: It's mid-July, and it's going fast

"Coming Home" columnist Jessie Veeder says it's the season when garden peas are ripe for picking and diving right into farmers markets, county fairs and soaking up the sun.

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Wild sunflowers are a common sight this time of year.
Jessie Veeder / The Forum
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WATFORD CITY, N.D. — It’s mid-July and the guys are in the hayfield. Everyone is in the hayfield.

The heat and the rain and the humidity have created a jungle of grass out here, up past our stirrups, belly-high on the cows, over my daughters’ heads in some places. That’s how we describe it when we see one another in town, at the Farm and Fleet, or a T-ball game or anywhere another rancher was convinced to go because it was a little too wet to bale.

It’s mid-July and across the state, small towns are holding homecoming gatherings, blocking off Main Streets so they can pull in a flatbed trailer and use it as a stage for the band they hired from Bismarck or Minneapolis or just down the road because it’s summer in North Dakota and it’s time for dancing in the streets.

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The peas in the garden are ripe for picking.
Jessie Veeder / The Forum

And the committee that made the plans, they’re hoofing tables and chairs, picnic tables and signs, dressed in matching T-shirts and sweating because they’ve been at it since 6 a.m., cursing the weather, but glad it isn’t rain, although even rain wouldn’t stop it. We have three fleeting months here — we don’t have the luxury of letting a little bad weather stop us.

As Jessie Veeder recalls the fire that destroyed her dad's childhood home, she ponders a life without earthly possessions.

It’s mid-July and the lake people are not coming in. Not now, are you crazy? This is their sweet spot and it shows in their bronzed skin and the pictures of the fish they’ve caught. Their kids have another month to find their shoes, but until then, they’re gone with bedtimes and balanced meals.

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It’s mid-July and the peas in the garden are ripe for the picking. We send the kids to collect some for supper and they don’t make it to the pot and that’s just fine, because the best way to eat a garden pea is fresh off the vine anyway. The same goes with beans and cherry tomatoes, and does anyone need lettuce? It’s coming out of our ears.

It’s mid-July and the wild sunflowers are blooming in the ditches along the highways and county roads. If you’re not in a hurry — in mid-July it should be crime to be in a hurry — you pull over to pick a handful among the sweet clover and wild grasses, the grasshoppers sticking to your legs, the horseflies buzzing, the heat reflecting off the pavement forming beads of sweat along your hairline. Some little bugs will take the trip back home to the vase with you, a black ant unknowingly hitching a ride to a new world on the petal of a flower.

It’s mid-July and the kids are catching baby toads in the yard, five total in a Tupperware habitat, pinching them carefully between the pads of their little fingers and holding them up to their eyes to get a closer look at their rough skin, tiny eyes and soft, thumping throats. How they just appear like that in the garden is a mystery, like the fireflies blinking outside the fence when the sun finally disappears way past that bedtime we set only to miss.

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Summer is the time for kids to catch baby toads in the yard.
Jessie Veeder / The Forum

It’s mid-July and the magic of growing and momentary things is everywhere, but most especially in these children stretching up toward the sun.

It’s mid-July and the sprinkler’s on. It’s mid-July and we’re at the farmers market. It’s mid-July and we’re swatting mosquitoes and cutting watermelon and the tops off of freeze-pops. It’s mid-July and we’re camping, poking sticks in the fire and itching bug bites. It’s mid-July and we’re grilling burgers and sending the kids outside to husk sweet corn. It’s mid-July and we’re at another rodeo, another softball game, the county fair, the state fair, the grandstands at a demo-derby, a concert in the park, the pool in town, yes we dove right in and there’s as much water under us as there is over our heads and we don’t want to hear it, although we say it ourselves, it’s going fast.

It always goes so fast…

Jessie Veeder recalls a high school memory fit for a cowgirl — being called into the office because her goat was on the loose around town.

Related Topics: FAMILYNORTH DAKOTA
Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband and daughters on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. She blogs at https://veederranch.com. Readers can reach her at jessieveeder@gmail.com.
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