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May 18, 2008

You Know Summer's Coming When . . . .

You Know Summer's Coming When . . . .

by Michele


Our seasons up here in the northland are a little bit behind everybody else's.  (I've almost come to think of you guys as the lower 48).  Right now, we're in the midst of the most glorious spring I have ever seen in my life, and I don't think that's just because the winter was so awful.  This spring is truly perfect.  Daffodils and tulips are everywhere.  Flowering trees perfume the cool air, and everybody's yards are full of that delightful, innocent shade of pale green that turns much darker as summer comes on.  So I can't say I'm not enjoying myself.

But for me, there's nothing like summer.  I've started my vigil -- now I keep my eyes peeled for signs that summer is on the way.  Well, what do you know?  The other day I happened to be driving with my family past our favorite seasonal ice cream shack, and lo and behold, it was open!  You know the sort of place I mean.  It operates out of the side of a building, or a roadside shed, or even a trailer.  It's only open when the weather is fine, and the only place to sit is a grungy old picnic table or the fender of your car.  But the ice cream there tastes sweeter than anywhere else.  And you'll go miles out of your way on a summer night to get to it.

  Aaah, sublime.  I had a vanilla soft-serve cone dipped in chocolate!

Any signs of summer down your way?


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90 degree heat. Watermelon stands on the side of the road. Chance of afternoon showers. Summer in Florida.

Here in central NY, where we are also firmly in spring (glory hallelujah), the only real signs of summer thus far are the end-of-school concerts, the summer camp advertisements, and the announcements of bands that will be playing at the State Fair. And that increasing pressure in my chest that reminds me that summer vacation is rapidly approaching and I'm nowhere near ready ....

The roar of lawn mowers and leaf blowers.

But also the Italian Ice trailer that parks in my neighborhood all summer! And it's here!

I'm glad you're enjoying the season, Michele.

For me, it's boats on the river, outdoor seating and Memorial Day weekend - the official opening of all the pools.

We are a bit ahead of you in Pittsburgh, Michele - our tulips and daffs have given way to azaleas and rhododendron this week. Gorgeous.

The windows open, the voices of the kids back outside playing in the cul-de-sac, my drawers upstairs full of shorts and tank tops, instead of sweaters and corduroys. My painted toes. :)

Painted toes -- fun, Laura! Do you do different colors in summer than in winter? I'm moving off the plums and browns and dark reds and into pinks and lavenders. Oh, and a very chic friend of mine wears frosted white and silver on her toes in the summer. Looks great on her.

Another sign -- the outdoor furniture is set up and the grill is cleaned and has a new propane tank. We grill and eat out any night it's warm enough.

Great signs, all. It's making me happy just reading this.

Hey, Michele, make that the Lower 47!

My garden is in full throat, and I have a bouquet of Irises (Irii?) on my kitchen counter perfuming the room. Last week it was lilacs and lilies of the valley. Last night I was driving through the community, and smelled freshly cut grass everywhere (one of the great joys of summer, in my opinion), and saw four deer, all in different places. This time of year, the deer have turned from the mousy greige of winter to the russet of summer, which contrasts so prettily with the vivid green of the grass and other vegetation. Any day now I expect to see the first newborn fawn.

It's been raining here much more than it did last year, when we had such a serious drought, so we are all thrilled to bits to have a real spring.

And did I mention the forget-me-nots? I have been growing them in my garden for 10 years, allowing them to reseed freely (which they need to do, since they're a biennial plant). In the middle of summer they will turn brown and dry, and I collect millions of seeds to share, and to spread elsewhere in the yard. The result is a cloud of heavenly blue wherever I have scattered them, or neighbors have. Last year I gave my mother a bag full to scatter behind her patio home, on the rocks at the edge of the hillside behind her. This year she has deer-proof "nots" as my daughter used to call them, all along the rear of her home. That's spring to me.

Um, I confess I don't keep the toes up much in the winter, Michelle. I even wear socks in the house most of the time. So sandal weather is definitely the time my toes get all the attention.

it has yet to get warm enough here for sandals, so I have not painted the tootsies, either, Laura. But there are so many cute sandals in the stores, and I've been seriously thinking it is almost time for a good pedi.

Oh, yes, we're finally getting that glorious spring into summer weather here in the heartland. New porch furniture, grilling out every night, my kids home from college. And within walking distance? The perfect frozen custard stand. Life is good.

Our Spring here in the Midwest has been odd to say the least. Frost in early May and two days later 80+ degrees. And rain....OMG, rain that just doesn't want to go away. Then some killer tornoados (literally, 28 in two small towns in SW MO and NE OK) and snow flurries. But it is finally supposed to be clear and sunny until at least midweek. Maybe i can get some impatiens out today. My Syberian Irises are in full bloom and are so pretty. They don't last long, but are worth it.

Oh, and we had commencement at the CC yesterday. The lake outside the bookstore windows had a multitude of geese, with two sets of babies. Spring and Fall are my favorite seasons!

Signs of summer: 100+ heat this week.

And posters along the side of the road announcing Topanga Days, which is every Memorial Day Weekend. Back in 2002, I knew when I saw those posters that my twins were about to pop out of my stomach, because their due date was Memorial Day. It was glorious, knowing I wasn't going to be pregnant for the rest of my life, even though it felt that way.

Now those posters remind me to order the birthday cakes and plan the party.

Open windows, mallards at the bird feeders, paddleboats at the local lake, and shorts and tube tops on campus, even at 65F...defintely summer signs in central Illinois :o) And the sun has actually been out two days in a row!

Here's another -- more locally grown stuff is showing up at the food coop. So far just fiddleheads and rhubarb. I'm waiting on the blueberries, though!

In Maryland instead of the ice cream shack it is the snowcone places all open and ready to go on nice evenings - Hooray!

Did someone mention tube tops? Ahhh, youth.

And mome, don't forget Rita's custard stand opening in March (a little too soon for warm weather in MD, but still yummy). We've had rain, rain & still more rain, but I love it! I do my best writing on rainy days. But I just noticed my stoop has algae growing on it, and moss is replacing grass in the backyard!

Right now my rhododendren is in full bloom, and all around my neighborhood colorful pansies brighten front yards and porches.

Kids (both young and old) are playing basketball, and the little girl next door is crying because she scraped her knee on the sidewalk. Ouch!

I love all the birds singing and the neighbors saying hello after being cooped up inside for the winter.

Also, this is commencement week at the Naval Academy, and the Blue Angels will be practicing overhead on Tues and doing their full show on Wed. That's an awesome (and quite loud) sign of Spring around here.

We have graduation parties to attend, and we're planning to go cross-country starting in three weeks...so we're spending a lot of time on final vacation plans.

(but yuck on Summer heat & humidity)

95˚F here in Northern California, after two days the marine layer fog reappeared, thank goddess and universe. My tomato plants would have been doing well, if I hadn't blundered and sprayed them with vinegar (forgot that vinegar was for the weeds, soap solution for bugs); they may live.

It is rose and honeysuckle time here.

I saw tons of honeysuckle growing in "my" woods today (my heart has already taken ownership of the new place). I actually had a neighbor stop by for a tour -- it's wide-open, of course, no doors yet, so anyone could take a look anytime, but it was fun to show it off.

When I lived in Minnesota, we would go for ice cream cones* on the first day when the temp. rose to freezing.

*ice cream cones -- the new official Missouri state dessert!

Mary, bush honeysuckle (as opposed to the cultivated kind) is a menace to woods. It strangles the other plants that used to thrive in the underbrush, so many communities are trying to eradicate it. We have to whack it back here all the time, or it would take over our entire property.

Sure smells wonderful, though.

Thanks, Karen. I'll pass along your words of wisdom.

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