Time in a bottle

Summer is not my time of year. I am pasty of complexion, categorically opposed to being sweaty, and allergic to everydamnthing. There are certainly things I like about summer, like bare feet and gardening and beach trips and farmer’s markets and flowers everywhere, but as warm, dry, sunny days stretch out into hot, arid, blistering weeks, the bloom falls right off the rose in both literal and metaphorical senses. Long before true summer is in full gear, I have reached and exceeded my quota of mosquito bites, sunburns, and being gushed at by summer-lovers who are desperately keen for me to affirm, approve, and embrace their love of the Season of Swelter.

Honestly, they can have it, and good riddance. I am ALL about the fall. Brisk air, trees that look like they’ve been hand-painted for maximum brilliance, months of the warm embrace of sweaters and boots ahead of me, and pumpkin flavored everything? Clearly, the perfect reward for another year’s endurance of summer without snapping, screaming, or calling in sick to work so I can try and fit myself into the refrigerator and hibernate it out til October.

The first taste of fall, this year, arrived at precisely 3:30am on Thursday. I know, because I woke up cold – not cool, but genuinely cold, for the first time in literal months. And despite 80 degree temperatures at mid day ever since, that late-night early-morning promise of future frost has returned each evening, and with it, suddenly, all the signs of approaching autumn are here. Leaves are red. Darkness begins and ends at reasonable times of day. Overnight, sunflower heads are dooping and corn stalks have dried enough to sursur in the slightest breeze.

I should be ecstatic. I should be overjoyed. I should be unearthing scarves and hats and gloves and piling them in great mounds on the floor to jump into and roll around on top of. Of all the summers, this has been the most summery – days and weeks and months of dry heat, short pants, and sticky torpor – and the end is finally, FINALLY in sight.

And for no reason I can possibly explain, I am sad. Pensive. Desperate, even, to keep this summer – this stupid, stupid, beastly, beautiful summer – just a little bit longer.

So I decided to do just that.

a little box of beachy bliss

a little box of beachy bliss

I bought this little table-top greenhouse at Ikea a few months ago, not so much having a purpose in mind for it as having $20 in my wallet and a bone-deep conviction that I was GOING to need it some day. And then I found these little guys in an antique store on Saturday:

shesells

Little porcelain shells. I have no idea what they were originally intended to be, but a lovely man at a shop called Clover happily sold me 5 of them for $5, and I wasn’t even out of the store before I was shopping for air plants on Etsy.

The air plants won’t be here for a few days, but in the mean time, I’ve made them a home in a plexiglass box. It’s a little box of summer, just one perfect day at the beach, to be an oasis for a few air plants – and a little preserved bit of summer to see me through this silly seasonal panic, the fabulous fall ahead, and the long winter to follow.

front

shell

 

My favorite thing about this is that it really is my own little slice of summer, complete with the glass float and sea shells that have followed me home from a lifetime’s worth of days at the beach and sprigs of the lavender that perfumes my whole yard in the afternoon sun. And, just in case I forget all the little things that made this summer maybe a little more magical and a little harder to part with than usual, I made a list – my own little message in a bottle:

bottle

In case you ever find yourself needing to do the same, obviously, you’re going to need parchment. This, naturally, is also a must for any official decrees or secret treasure maps on your to-do list. Of course, if you’re like me, parchment never manages to make it onto the shopping list, and you’ll find yourself totally out just when you need it most.

Never fear! All you need to fake it is run of the mill printer paper (admittedly, thicker, higher quality paper does work best) and black coffee. You can scrunch and crunch your paper first, and then soak it in coffee, or dampen it with water, brush it with coffee, and let it dry before distressing. It produces very different looks:

papier

thereby allowing you to customize it for your intended purposes. Let it dry thoroughly, and then, write – or proclaim, or map – away!

letters

Now that I’ve got summer in the bag – well, box – I think I’m ready to embrace fall the way it deserves, spices and sweater-sleeves and all!

If things are a little quiet around here for a little while, do forgive us – we’ll be trying to kickstart our fall festivities while simultaneously soaking up the last rays of sun.

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