Sticky Summer Heat

August 17, 2014 at 8:15 am (Rants) (, , , , , , , , , )

It is too hot.

It is August.

These two condition seem inter-changeable. What is cause? What is causation?

I am not a fan of August. Summer is not my favourite season.

I have never been a summer’s child!

Family lore has it that I fainted from the heat, at age seven, returning from the beach.

Calvin-Hot

I have always sought out the cool side of summer. I seek shade and forest glen and cave to hide within their coolness.

During those long summer days of my childhood, I would go next door to the library the minute it opened, take out the maximum six books that I was allowed and come home to read all afternoon inside.

I would hide in my mother’s closet at the very back behind all the clothes – I was a very tiny child until I hit puberty. Or I would grab my lamp and a couple of pillows and snuggle under the bed with the dog and cat. Or I would hide in the very cramped back corner of my eldest sister’s closet. There I would read and read and read until just before the library closed. Just before the library closed, I would return my six books (all read) and take out six more to hold me until the library reopened. They never did. Thankfully, I learned how to game the system. It seems, that you were allowed six books per day so I could take out six on Monday, return a few on Tuesday and take out six more. I think the maximum I had out then was around twenty at a time. The maximum we are allowed now is one hundred items checked out to your card – I’ve never done that. I have less time to read now.

I have always loved caves. I love their quiet. I love their coolness. I love their isolation. I love the alone-ness.

There is so much space there.

There are forest caves and mountain caves.

Forest caves surrounded by the scent of pine and the earth and flowers and animals. Beware of the bears.

Mountain caves reached after long hikes with younger sisters that reveal incandescent pools of azure and emerald. They need to be forever hidden from the rowdy tourists.

Caves are almost other-worldly.

Does a Yeti live here?

Is this where Nessie hides from the tourists swarming her loch?

Would ET feel at home here?

Are you brave enough to explore the world’s deepest cave? I am not.

I read this story once about a young pregnant woman trapped alone in a cave.The cave had vegetation for food and a warm pool for bathing. It is a horror story. I thought, really, all she needs is a never ending supply of books or paper & pen to write her own stories down and she could be perfectly happy!

Another book I love about exploring caves is Cavedweller by Dorothy Allison.

These last few August days, my house has become a giant cave with shades drawn to keep out the heat as I hibernate and read. This is my perfect summer’s day!

 

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Raspberry Summer

August 10, 2014 at 8:15 am (Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I eat raspberries as I write this.

They are cold and slightly tart. They have been in the refrigerator for a few days now. I don’t like to eat my raspberries right away. I like to savor them.

They traveled a long way to get here. These are California raspberries shipped up to Canada which seems stupid. The raspberries are ripe here right now, I just can’t get to them. I have no raspberry patch of my own. I have no car. The farmers’ market has come and gone for the week (it is only on Thursday afternoons – how ridiculous). Sometimes, I really miss my city and its twice weekly farmers’ markets.

These are not my mother’s raspberries. My mother’s raspberries wait in the patch to be picked. She sprinkles them with sugar before she freezes them. I like mine frozen without sugar. I like to savor the frozen berries, one by one, in the deepness of winter. In December, I like to mush up the frozen raspberries in a big bowl of chocolate ice cream. Ah, bliss!

Raspberries are my favourite fruit.

I swear I could live for days on just raspberries and chocolate.

Growing up, my grandparent’s neighbour had a yard full of raspberry canes. These were my father’s parents. Jack lived about a quarter of a mile down their country road. He was a farmer or had been a farmer. I’m sure by then he was a retired farmer.

Jack had that look about him. To me, he seemed old and always dusty. He lived alone. He lived on a farm thus he must have been a retired farmer. It’s strange what we remember and what we assume.

I don’t remember his last name. It’s not important. If it were I could ask my mother – she would remember.

I remember being young. I was probably in grade one. We would go to pick raspberries in Jack’s yard. I was surrounded by bushes. I was a fairy tale creature in a raspberry forest surviving on what I could forage. I ate as much as I picked for the pail.

These raspberries were not for eating. These raspberries were for freezing. It seems my mother was very big into delayed gratification. It seemed all our summer fruit was for freezing and not for enjoying now. We were poor. It was prudent to freeze the excess fruits for later. But when you are a child you live only in the moment, in the now.

Is this why I am willing to pay almost five dollars for less than a pint of raspberries to eat right now?

Looking Up

Raspberries taste best sun ripened and warm from the heat.

My nephew lives on my grandparent’s farm now. Where Jack’s house was is a very large slough (we’ve had a lot of rain lately). This slough covers what use to be yard/garden – where a raspberry forest use to be.

Still, I wonder, have the raspberries grown wild by now? Is there somewhere, beyond the slough, a raspberry forest full of fairy-tale creatures gorging themselves on sun-ripened fruit their hands red and sticky?

What is your favourite summer fruit?

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Summer Lemonade

August 3, 2014 at 8:15 am (Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I went to a funeral recently in an old country church. You know, a small church way out in the country that only seats a handful of people. Well, at least in my memory it’s way out in the country. In reality, it seems, it’s borders right on the highway. Not a main highway, for sure, just a less traveled secondary highway but still, in my memory, this particular church is way off in the middle of nowhere absolutely surrounded by trees.

Country Church

It was a particularly beautiful summer’s day. The sky was a crystalline blue. There was a slight breeze. The mosquitoes stayed away. The congregation was full of family who loved and missed the deceased.

The deceased was the mother of one of my childhood friends. We were tomboys together. My friend was not there. She had died years ago, in her early twenties; she was the first of my peer group to die. Her death was a blip on the radar screen of my life. She had moved away before first grade and I, then in my twenties, hardly had cause to remember her.

Her mother’s death was more poignant though not at all surprising like Tammy’s death was. We expect the old to die.

Inside

The funeral made me think of long ago summer days. Tammy’s mom and my mom use to take Tammy & I & my younger brother out on drives. Our moms were both alone, divorced, and raising young children by themselves. My mom had no car and did not drive. Tammy’s mom would borrow her dad’s car or her older sister Viola’s convertible and we would drive the endless country roads of my youth. I miss just driving with no destination in mind.

There was no rhyme or reason to where or when. We would just drive. We would end up at the lake or we would end up picking berries somewhere – the edge of a field or the start of an endless woods. We were young, Tammy and I, the world seemed endless.

There were trips to Viola’s farm where we would stay for supper after being at the lake. Viola was at the funeral, she is in her nineties now. She doesn’t remember me. There were horses at the farm, endless trees, and what seemed like an all-encompassing quiet. Country quiet is different than city quiet. Here, I hear the birds and the wind. There, I hear cars on pavement and trains rumbling by.

Churchyard

It seemed then that Tammy and I would be friends forever. We started Kindergarten together and in the summer we would set up a lemonade stand to make money. We were poor and needed the cash to buy paper dolls.

There were optimal places to set up our lemonade stand. The best places were in front of the post office or drug store. Everyone went there. It was where the old people congregated and the old people were always willing to spend a dime on a warm, watery glass of Kool-Aid lemonade. We were not fancy. We were practical. We got the supplies from her house or my house and re-used the Tupperware plastic tumblers until we had sold ten glasses worth. All we needed was a dollar. With that we could get one paper doll booklet that usually had two paper dolls and four pages of clothes. We could play with them all afternoon without getting bored and go back the next week-end to start the cycle anew.

These are the paper dolls I remember best. The King and Queen of Hearts, Romeo & Juliet, Robin Hood and Maid Marian. (Click on the link and scroll down). Story-tale paper dolls. The paper dolls stayed at Tammy’s house. I don’t remember why. Maybe because I had a bratty baby brother plus two older sisters and all she had was a brother who was older. Maybe I was just a push-over. Probably a bit of all these reasons.

Tammy moved out of the country the next year and though I saw her again when we were entering our teens, we were never ever really best friends again.

I went to her mother’s funeral because I hadn’t been able to go to hers. I went to say thank you for the drives and the memories. It was appropriate that it was a summer funeral because it was that summer freedom and joy that Tammy and her mother gave to me.

Cross & Stone

Now. Now that I am old, when I pass a lemonade stand hosted by young-uns, I stop. I have a glass of watery, warm lemonade from a paper cup (we are more germ conscious now) and I remember hot summer days and long country drives.

It is not a straight line that got me here!

 

 

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Travel theme: Metal

May 29, 2014 at 8:15 am (Meme) (, , , , , , , , , )

Metal

I went for an early walk last Saturday morning. It was too hot to sleep. I am not Summer’s child.

I was fiddling with my iPhone and liked how this fence showed up on the screen so I snapped it and now I share it.

Post is early this week. I still have a secret, maybe I’ll reveal it next week.

 

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Too Hot For Me (No Soup For You)

September 8, 2013 at 8:15 am (Weather) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Summer is ending. The last few weeks have been hot with temperatures hovering around 30 degree Celsius (86 degrees F).

Too hot for me.

I am not summer’s child. I was born in the Spring and my heart resides in Autumn.

I adore the cooling days and nights. I luxuriate in Fall’s changing colours. I don’t want the first snow to fall until Christmas Eve (I must have snow for the holidays). Autumn is too short. Summer is too long.

It is too hot for me.

Like an insect, I hover in the cool breezes and hide inside umbrellas or sneak inside dwellings to escape the heat.

Hiding inside doesn’t work. Inside, sans breeze, is hotter than outside unless you have air conditioning (hi everyone who isn’t me).

The fans stir up only warm air and lately there have been no night breezes.

I can only survive Summer if there are night breezes.

I praise the humble dragonfly out devouring the insolent mosquito.

It is too hot for me.

The farmers are out harvesting. Hi Farmers.

The gophers are out chasing each other.

There are fresh vegetables and ripe fruits over-running homes and markets.

You can’t leave the house without zucchini and lone tomatoes apparitioning on the kitchen table or on the back deck. Beware of drive-by gardeners!

It is too hot for me!

How do I survive when it’s this hot out?

Other then hiding in air-conditioned spaces. I thank the stars for air-conditioned libraries.

I drink something hot, like tea.

Or make soup.

Yes, I know this sounds counter-productive.

Wouldn’t putting something hot in your body just make you hotter?

Actually hot beverages are good for you when it’s hot out…

They make you sweat…which cools you off…miraculous!

Also remember when you sweat you lose salt which your body needs to be healthy.

So when it’s hot, drink something hot and replenish that salt.

No you don’t need to go as far as getting a salt lick!

Hot, hot, hot…

Too hot for me!

I’m waiting (melting) (sweating) for Autumn to start

Bittersweet October.  The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.  ~Carol Bishop Hipps

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Photo Friday: Summer Colours

August 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm (Meme) (, , , , , )

I had a different post planned for today (hopefully, you’ll see it next week) but I’m in the midst of the last of my unpacking (see last week) so I give you a little bit of summer color instead.

Holy, run-on sentence, Batman!

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I Want A House Dress

July 15, 2012 at 8:15 am (Life, Rants) (, , , , , , , , , )

It is still too hot. Even though I live in a semi-basement apartment, I am too hot. All that the fans seem to be good for is to circulate warm air and even opening the windows in the evening is doing little to cool down my space . I wish I could sleep with the windows wide open all night but I don’t feel safe doing that. If I did maybe then the loud thundery night air would cool down my apartment so that it would be livable during the day!

I sit here in  my hot apartment not cooking, not reading (the light-bulbs get too hot), and not doing much of anything except spending too much time on the computer as television is crap 90% of the time during the summer.

It doesn’t help that I live in jeans and own few summer clothes. My wardrobe is a fall/winter/spring wardrobe. It’s as if my mind refuses to believe that Summer exists at all.

What is a house dress? Well, obviously it’s a dress you wear mostly around the house because you don’t want to be seen wearing it. My grandparents had clothes they wore at home and clothes there wore in public. Me – I’m past the point (actually never really cared that much) where I acknowledge others’ judgments. Right – so why won’t I wear shorts in public? My grandmothers mostly wore houses dresses.

According to Gertie (don’t you just love that name. Isn’t it such a grandmotherly name?):

First off, what is a house dress? Basically any relatively loose-fitting day dress with easy closures (usually in the front) that was worn to do household chores in.

My mother does not wear house dresses. She wears shorts and goes about bare footed as often as she can or slips on flip flops. My mother is a summer person. She is a gardener. She loves the heat. She loves the long days.

She was raised on a farm and has lived in small towns for ninety percent of her life. I don’t know if this is why she prefers shorts to dresses. She used to dress up. She used to wear dresses and high heels. I have pictures. We use to play dress-up with her old heels and even then I knew I would not be wearing those things every day!

I hate shopping. I am not a girly-girl. Was I ever a girly-girl? They use to make us wear dresses every Sunday to church and on special occasions. We had to wear not just dresses but tights and pantyhose as well. Thus, I’ve always viewed dressing up as torture not fun.

I can’t remember the last time I wore a sundress or owned sandals.

I can remember the last time I owned a house dress. I paid ten dollars for it. I was in my twenties and living by myself. It was a black, sleeve-less cotton dress that flowed to below my knees and was easy to put on. I wore it around my apartment and on the days I did laundry because it was cool and I could put it on and forget about clothes and fashion and the weather. I never wore it outside the apartment building! I never wore it except when I was alone.

Here are my three reasons to wear a house dress:

  1. A house dress is cool. That is, it allows the air to circulate and cool your body. Though, on the other hand, because of shows like Mad Men, house dresses are also COOL.
  2. A house dress is easy; easy to put on, easy to make and easy to forget about.
  3. A house dress is quick; slip it on and you’re done dressing in one or two easy steps.

Here are three reasons I won’t wear a house dress outside the house:

  1. A house dress needs accessorizing. You have to think about what to wear on your feet especially if you plan to leave the house even if you’re just going down to the communal basement to do your laundry.
  2. People judge you. I feel more vulnerable wearing a dress, especially this one. In my jeans, I blend into the crowd and nobody notices me.
  3. I haven’t worn a dress comfortably in public since I was 7. That’s when people started to feel that they had the right to comment on my appearance. I don’t care what you think of my fashion look and I’d prefer that you keep all comments, good or bad, to yourself.

Now, I want a house dress. I want it for practical reasons – I’m tired of being overheated. I want it for the comfort and because (part of me) wants to feel as pretty as that seven year old use to once upon a time.

I’m off to buy this dress. Don’t tell me how I look in it (please)!

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Hot & Bored

July 8, 2012 at 8:15 am (Weather) (, , , , , , )

Summer is upon us.

The daytime shadows are skinny and long.

It is so hot.

It is so hot that all one has to do to dry their hair quickly is hang your head out the window for a minute or two!

I am locked up inside – hot & bored & broke & alone.

Summer is not my season.

Though I do look fondly on afternoons spent exploring shadowy woods.

But shadowy woods are best explored in May or September.

Or when there are cool winds to chase away the mosquitoes.

Summer is not my season.

Though when I was a young teenager, I dreamed of owning a cottage by the lake. But that was before the lakes were over-run with houses. You might as well be back in the city. The neighbours are close enough to touch and though there are cool breezes and calm waves there is also way too much noise and booze.

I want to be able to have my own lake with a cave to hide in. I need an island, perhaps.

Summer is not my season.

It is too hot and I can’t afford to go anywhere or buy anything (so beaches & woods & air-conditioned malls are out of reach).

It is too hot and I am bored.

I am tired of reading and tired of television.

I am longing for an early autumn (could we start now, please)!

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Summer Memories

August 6, 2011 at 12:15 pm (Fun, Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , )

The summers of my childhood were endless. I woke up, had breakfast and immediately was sent outside until the noon whistle blew. When I was growing up, every small town had a whistle that sounded every day at noon sharp; that’s how we knew to go home (or back to grandmas) for lunch. After a lunch hastily eaten, we quickly headed back out before we could be corralled into doing dishes.

We spend our days running wild, rain or shine. We had the run of the main street sidewalk for playing games, like hopscotch or roller skating. It was the 60s, the end of the baby boom, and kids to play with were plentiful. The grown-ups were there to keep an eye on us and corral us for the occasional errand.

Other children’s parents/grandparents never hesitated to help or hinder us with the occasional warning. We had the run of two playgrounds, the public and the elementary school ones, and there was a paddling pool to splash in.  We loved to hide in the lumber yard, but being it was off limits, only got to explore it on Sundays and holidays. The lumber yard was a forbidden danger full of nails, the fear of tetanus shots because of a rusty nail stepped on and splinters.

In reality, the lumber yard consisted of hundreds of open shelves, long enough for two or three kids to lie down in them toe to head. I don’t really remember the appeal except it was cool & dark and smelt of saw dust, and was, of course, forbidden!

Our summer games were different from the schoolyard games we played from September to June. There were fewer rules, nobody to tell us what to do and boys & girls roamed together as one large pack, a gaggle of kids, a mob.

What is a large group of children called?

The biggest difference was that in the summer we were allowed out after supper. Summer evenings are long, for a few short weeks, the sun stays up until ten and we pack of children were not called in early to bed. In the back alley, we played tag or hide-n-seek in the waning twilight.

I don’t remember many rainy childhood days. The rain did not stop my fun; I would pull on my serviceable rubber boots and follow the streams the rain made. I would imagine tiny people boating and building and playing along these streams. It was very British, in my imagination; there were green forests and rolling hills and fairies. My first book was Andrew Lang’s Red Fairy Book and these are the illustrations that haunt my childhood memories.

If I was not outside, I was at the library (after all it was right next door) or I was hiding and reading. I don’t know why I hid with my books? I hid under the bed, in the back of my mother’s closet or upstairs in the back of eldest sister’s closet. I still like creating caves and I still like reading; you could say that on bright summer days, the curtains closed as they are now, my apartment is one big, solitary cave.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a small town, 5 blocks x 5 blocks in size, with a bustling main street. Main Street had two grocery stores, a drugstore, a hardware store, the library, a meat market, a bank, a cafe, the seldom used train station at one end, the elementary school at the other end, and a horseshoe pitch. It had every thing we could ever need.

Of course, part of the summer was spent with grandparents. My mother’s parents lived in a smaller town than we did after they sold their farm and my father’s parents were, on a farm, just a few miles out of town. We had swimming lessons in the lake my mother’s parents’ town was named for. When we were in our early teens, my younger brother and I walked across this lake one winter and the news reached my grandparents before we were even across this frozen vast-land (yes, we got in trouble).

On my father’s parents farm we morphed into farm kids, free to roam the countryside, staying within yelling distance, of course. We weeded the garden, we climbed the rock pile we helped to create, we picked cattails at the slough, we conversed with the cows and were chased by the vicious geese. When he was twelve, my younger brother got a BB gun for Christmas. I was so jealous! When he finally let me use it, I accidentally on purpose shot him in the back of the leg. I wanted to see if it would hurt and was not about to shoot myself. I didn’t get in trouble for this because he never tattled on me (which was very unlike my younger brother).

There were cousins galore on my father’s side and none on my mother’s, though there were a handful of second & third cousins much older than us.  On my father’s side we cousins ranged from babies to teenagers and there was always some one to run wild with. I miss that aspect of summer. My summers now are too bereft of companionship.

From the ages of 7 – 13, I was a wild child, a tomboy, a member of Peter Pan’s tribe or Robin Hoods. There was endless freedom and no responsibility except to be home in time for meals and to be respectful and kind. Like any normal pack of children there were fights, disagreements, bumps, bruises and tears. We learned to negotiate our way; we learned how to survive and who would compromise.

Childhood is not necessarily safe but we all survive it somehow.

In spite of the bumps, scrapes, bruises and hurt feelings.

My summer childhoods felt perfect and I miss that bliss of perfection.

I wonder what I have lost, growing up, becoming fearful, and losing that fearlessness to try everything.

What would you answer if I asked you to come out and play?

(Playing Hide-n-seek in the dark is fun for grown-ups too.)

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Summer in the City

July 31, 2011 at 2:16 pm (Life, My City) (, , , , , , , , )

Once the ribbons and festival garbage cans start to crop up along the river bank I know  Summer in the City has begun.

I’m not a big fan of summer; summer tends to always be tooo hot. I love it when the temperatures drop over night, to the single digits, it helps me sleep better.

I love the Farmers’ Market in the Summer. There is no taste like fresh peas and other vegetables straight from the garden. I don’t garden but my ancestors are farmers and gardeners. When I lived at home, as an adult,  my mother gardened and I took care of the inside chores. I much prefer this arrangement over our childhood one where all of us were expected to garden and weed. I think mother thought because she loved it so much it must be fun. I don’t think I’ll ever find gardening FUN but I’ve grown to appreciate the rewards that labour brings.

Summer in the City means enjoying the Jazz festival. There are tons of free concert and I suppose, if one was persistent, one might bump into a star or two. These gophers were out frolicking with their pals while listening to the music.

Today is the first weekend of the Fringe. I always go to the Fringe but this year I am also volunteering which is turning out to be a ton of fun.

It’s only the first weekend of the festival, our August long weekend, and the crowds are not yet huge.

I watch the Oriental Dance group dance on the street every year thinking that it would be fun to join but I haven’t joined yet. I’m a slow adopter and a scarredy-cat.

Don’t the dancers look happy? They’re probably a great group and very open, don’t you think?

Summer is half over and I haven’t done half the things I wanted to.

Before I know it, it will be September and we will be ending the season with the Fireworks festival.

For your summer enjoyment here is some bonus nostalgic teenage music.

I hope your summer is marvelous and not seeming too short.

“Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.”
–  Russel Baker

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