Bed in Summer

Robert Louis Stevenson from A Child’s Garden of Verses

In winter, I get up at night and
dress by yellow candle-light
In summer quite the other way
I have to go to bed by day

As Robert Louis Stevenson said in his lovely poem for children, ‘I must get up at night.’ Here in Northern Europe, it was definitely day at 10 pm in the summer; now as I cross from Compline at 8:30 it is under a darkened sky. The light is switched on when I wake at 6:45 for a 7:15 Lauds. The days are shortening — and fast — here. My coffee and I wandered yesterday among the last of the summer flowers in the garden. The bouquets on the altar are still creative and lovely but smaller and more carefully arranged. The sun is not so warm but soft and shining which I am told is often normal for September in Belgium. The ducks were resting and sunning on the canal bank in what is left of the sun. No young ones any longer and you can not tell the difference between the mamas and papas and young ones. They all look alike and the same size!

Much is still to be gathered in the waning vegetable garden: giant winter squash headed for the soup pot I am told. Growth is slow now and mostly underground — beets, potatoes and carrots, and of course the lettuce which loves the cool. The kitchen sister makes a popular beet salad and we are glad to see more of it now with the cool weather. Tomatoes are done and the berries all eaten by the birds and us humans. Apples are in abundance on the old and wizened trees and and one diligent sister patiently plucks them, peels them carefully, discarding and cutting out the bad spots. No good pulp is left ungathered and wonderful fresh compote is made and eagerly devoured. I do not hesitate to give thanks for her love of the garden and her labor of love as I devour the delicious fruit.

This sister will be returning to her home convent for a month in October where the lazy days of autumn will be in abundance as Fall is a little later there than here in Belgium. I will see autumn twice this year as the last fruits are gathered in.



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