Saturday, July 12, 2008

Summer


It's true Summer at last. Sunflowers and zinnias are blooming in my garden. Tomatoes are still just green ping-pong balls on the vine, but growing toward the time when we'll have so many tomato sandwiches, so much gazpacho, that we get sick of fresh warm tomatoes and give them away. The windows are open wide and I can hear my neighbor's lives. The insane-lawn-care man who lives in the big, fancy house across the street,and who we don't know, is watering his driveway. That's how he washes every last speck of dirt off it. I think his middle name is Sisyphus. My neighbor two doors down, who has a Mrs. Rochester-like schizophrenic wife we never see, is out tending his roses, which grow in happy, predictable perfection. Sometimes in the evening, I hear him and his wife in the back yard, under the rose bowers, talking. His voice is always tender and loving. Hers sometimes matches his, sometimes flies away into keening madness.

Our neighbors hear us too. Our autistic daughter goes out on the swing in the back yard and talks/sings to herself. "Hi angel," she croons. "You are my angel." I'm always so glad we don't cuss at her because, if we did, she'd be crooning obscenities instead. The teens go in and out in their whispering, giggling, independent orbit. In the cooling evening, I work on the front yard, while the youngest one plays up and down the sidewalk. Other neighbors emerge with their babies and toddlers. We chat and I fuss over the babies and beg to hold them.

I love Summer - the profligate messy abundance of it. I love that the walls and fences that contain our lives thin in Summer, allowing us to hear and see and know each other with more depth and compassion. (Or, in the case of the lawn-care man, with self-congratulatory eye rolling, because it's always fun to congratulate yourself every now and then.) But mostly I love the restful enforced boredom of these days when it's too hot to cook, too hot to go outside, too hot to do anything but lie on the sofa and read while the ceiling fan goes around and around.

16 comments:

Rebecca said...

Drinking deep of it. Delicious.

I'm making plum jam/chutney/liquer/preserves because our Santa Rosa plum trees went crazy this year and we have so many the branches are breaking.

Elizabeth said...

Lucky you! I'd like to figure out how to squeeze a fruit tree -even a dwarf - in our smallish back yard....

yellowdog granny said...

I would love to feel that way about summer..but I live in Texas..summer started here in April this year..it's schedueled to be 99+ all this coming week...ohh, gazpacho...I make it all the time..hope to have my own veggies for it soon...but Texas kicked my 'maters ass...my jalapenos are fire cracker hot, my japanese eggplants are getting long and lean...squash, okra and 'lopes are growing right along..my flowers all kicked it in already..so did my herbs..except for my rosemary, catnip and chocolate mint..they are all thriving..
send angel kisses to your sweet daughter..

a thousand shades of twilight said...

A lovely, lovely entry, Elizabeth. I got quite shivery reading it. So evocative with a real sense of 'life', of people cautiously opening out and having their lives intersect. It's winter here, of course. But we are having an uncharacteristically sunny, but breezy day. It makes me feel lazy, expansive and full of a pleasant wistfulness..

sageweb said...

That was a great post..brought a smile to my face...even though our summer is almost year round. Something about summertime, most people our on their porches just kicking back. It is very peaceful.

Willym said...

I love that the walls and fences that contain our lives thin in Summer, allowing us to hear and see and know each other with more depth and compassion.

What a lovely sentence and it says it all.

Guess I'm just in one of those moods this morning but after reading Dora and you I'm feeling sort of nostalgic, homesick and teary-eyed.

Elizabeth said...

Granny - Well, Texas is a whole 'nother world, climate wise. When we lived in the tropics we had frying summers like that. You just have to lie low.

You inspired me, talking about your Japanese eggplants in a Spring time post, so I planted one, but it's all bug-eaten and pitiful. Oh well. Maybe next year.

1000 shades - Thank you! I'm thrilled to have made you shivery, and to have added to your sense of wist.

Elizabeth said...

Sage - Because I like you so much I won't get snitty about the fact that you live in a place with heavenly weather and I live in a place with 55 sunny days a year. I love the Summer front-porch culture with its moseying and chit chatting.

Will - Thanks dear. I totally understand. Living overseas, no matter how lovely the place, is never quite the same. You need those shared cultural assumptions, the shared language, to feel that homey sense of ease. How much longer is Laurent's posting?

more cowbell said...

That was nice. I love summer too ... my sanity depends on it.

Willym said...

Coming up to the end of our first year here - got 3 more to go. But then as we're constantly reminded: Its Rome - so what's your proble?

pat said...

thanks for the sweet summer interlude. You didn't mention the smell of freshly mowed grass, but I smelt it. What about rock salt and homemade peach ice cream....mmmn, peachalicious.

Elizabeth said...

Will - Three more years? That's a long haul. And when do you get home leave? Every year, or every two years?

My mother spent a lot of her life in the same difficult position you're in: it wasn't HER job, but she was still stuck with the side effects and trappings of it- the isolation of being away from all your support systems, the annoyance and tedium of those representational embassy parties, the small-minded embassy gossip, etc. It may be Rome and fabulous in so many ways, but it still ain't your job, and it still ain't home.

It won't be much consolation to you now, but my mother always liked their postings much better after the fact. She loves having lived in the places they lived and having done the things they were able to do. Just as you'll, no doubt, remember your fabulous art and opera adventures. But as I say, not much consolation now, or on those days when you just plain miss home.

Elizabeth said...

Pat - I would have put in new-mown grass, but the insane-lawn-care man uses a lawn-care service that belches out gasoline fumes with its noisy machines.... Sigh. I'll just have to get to know him so I know what he's compensating for. Then it won't annoy me anymore.

Peaches! Not peach season here yet, but soon. And I just got an ice cream maker at a yard sale!

Miss Janey said...

Sounds so nice at your place, Elizabeth. Love teh flowers.

jason said...

beautiful!
(the flowers and the post both)

Elizabeth said...

Miss J.- It is nice here, even though we live on a busy street. We live on what I call the white trash side of the street, with smaller houses more tightly packed together, and friendlier people. Lawn-care guy lives on the rich-people side of the street, with huge houses set back behind wide empty, chemically perfect lawns.

I love my flowers too. I'm a flower slut AND a baby slut.

Jason - Thanks! If any of you lived closer, I'd be leaving bouquets on your doorsteps.