Those old signs of summer are here

It doesn’t hurt that July 4 is coming right up, but I have other definite signs that summer has finally arrived. This is important since the skies are still far too gray far too often for that to be our harbinger.
For me, one of the first is finding really good nectarines. I jumped the gun and tasted, then tossed, half a dozen. Then this week I stumbled on a crate of these juicy summer treasures and I am eating them on or with something for every meal.
Another definite and divine clue for me is the smell of bonfires and roasting hot dogs in the air as you drive down Coast Highway 101. The combination is a scent from my youth that evokes all the best things of a Southern California summer.
For our next exhibit, please drop your eyes to my bright red toenails on my beautifully manicured feet. Not only are my toenails painted, but I have officially exposed my tootsies in sandals. That little debut gets trickier every year.
But the really, truly, final, major, absolute sign that summer is here is that you will find my backyard and patio are actually presentable. That does not come easily. You will also find me just standing at the back door gazing with joy at my presentable patio. For the balance of the year, it is forced to hibernate beneath a layer of dead leaves, dog hair, spider webs, buckets, garden tools of every variety and piles of pruned branches. We won’t place blame for any of this, but I will take this opportunity to state that I am neither a tree, a spider, a dog, nor do I do much pruning.
But every year about this time (Father’s Day helps) I find that excuse to plan an outdoor party. I actually invite people so I can’t change my mind and just before the event, I down a double latte and attack. Well, that’s what I used to do. This year I was blessed with the presence of a big, strong, 16-year-old who did the edging, most of the sweeping, the table moving, the raking and then manned the leaf-blower for the final touch.
Once I broke out my new, $5, vinyl yet fetching tablecloth, it was like a miracle. You could actually sit out there and gaze at my lovely potted plants and other greenery in all directions. Just a word. No one is permitted to look in the side yard.
I’ll get to that next weekend.

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