Saturday, September 26, 2009

Summer's End

It's that time of year again in the northern hemisphere. Summer's over. Kids are going back to school, there's a faint hint of coolness in the night air, and the fireflies are gone. If only the mosquitos would go with them.

After Labor Day, people tend to stop wandering, focus on business, and call an end to playtime. This is the time of year when we used to have to write school essays called some variation of "What I Did on my Summer Vacation." Remember those? Mine used to be about swimming, since we did a lot of that in the summer, and about trips to Florida to see my cousins on my father's side. There were always short trips to see my mom's siblings and their families, too. And a week at the beach, where my dad would take one day to go out fishing on a boat. We built sand castles, and he taught me to swim out beyond the breakers. He'd grown up in Manila, in the Philippine Islands, and had served in the Navy, so he was comfortable in the water.

In August, we used to put down a blanket in the front yard and watch the Perseid meteor shower. The ambient light in our small town was so minimal that it didn't blot out the stars. On other summer nights, my parents sat in the front yard in lawn chairs, with empty ones beside them so whoever wandered down the street could sit and chat.

My dad made peach ice cream in a hand-crank freezer. The ice packed into it came from the same place that had supplied ice blocks for my grandparents' ice boxes, forerunners of refrigerators. When he finished, we got to scrape ice cream off the paddles. He also liked to peel and slice peaches, add sugar, and freeze them. I remember eating slushy, crunchy, sweet, half-thawed peaches for dessert.

My mom grew tomatoes, so tomato sandwiches were a staple, along with sliced tomatoes for meals. The tastes of summer were tomatoes, peaches, and watermelon. And, when I was deemed old enough at last, sweet iced tea.

Now my summers tend to be about preparing for fall. We took a family vacation, and I went to RWA, but I had projects to complete. Summer is no longer a time for being lazy in whatever way presents itself. We played catch-up, though not with particular success, and I tried to whittle the TBR pile. Alas, but it keeps growing despite my efforts. The dh did yard work and minor household repairs. The boy practiced his guitar and art lessons and spent some time with his girlfriend. The dog thought up new ways to mooch.

I did make it to Atlanta a couple of times and bought peaches on the way, along the same stretch of highway where my dad liked to buy them. It's not quite the same, but it'll do. And when we stopped on Labor Day, coming home from DragonCon, for our last fresh peaches of the season, the stand where we bought them was also selling homemade peach ice cream. Not as good as my dad's, but it was tasty.

The dh hates the summer heat and mugginess but loves spring and fall. He grew up in the Colorado Front Range, where spring and fall are brief and the summer air is light, and went to college in New Hampshire, where winter lasts a long time. Come winter, he won't wear a sweater because "it's not cold here." Compared to the Front Range in winter, probably not. He likes to poke around in the yard in the spring and fall--which is the only reason anything blooms in our yard, considering that the thing I do best for plants is kill them--savoring the seasons. If he can, he likes to put in a garden. We had green beans into November one mild year.

Now fall is officially here. We're all back at school in our various capacities. NC apples will show up in the markets. The trees will turn, life will settle into a routine, and we'll soon be digging out sweaters. Before we know it, Halloween will be upon us, then Thanksgiving and the rush leading into Christmas and the lull before New Year's, and then we'll be in the depth of winter again, looking forward to another summer.

We're traveling today, leaving home early to go to a wedding in one of the heavily flooded counties of northern Georgia. But I'll be back late this afternoon. Meanwhile, please send good wishes toward a young bride and groom looking for a dry place to say "I do" since the flooding torpedoed their plans and tell us--

How was your summer vacation? What foods or activities do you associate with summer? What's your favorite season, and why?


limecello said...


limecello said...

Hm... my summer "vacation" was horrible :P and not a vacation at all. Let's not talk about that.
As for my favorite season... I guess I'd have to say summer. First of all, because I was in school for... forever, so summer vacation always meant no classes! (Until my second year of law school O_o) That, and my birthday is in the summer. As is my sister's. And literally like 30 other friend's birthdays.
What makes me think of summer? Birthdays... weddings... roses, ice cream, strawberries, blueberries... and enjoying being outdoors. :)
Bye summer! I'll miss you!

jo robertson said...

Beautiful post, Nancy. I love to hear others reminisce about their childhood seasons, how they've changed and what they've grown into.

The thing I remember most about my childhood summers was catching fireflies and putting them in a jar, watching them all night long while I was supposed to be sleeping. They intrigued me so much, how those little bodies lit up like a flashlight.

Happy wishes for the happy couple; may their feet always stay dry!

Anna Campbell said...

Nancy, what a lovely post. I could hear the love in your voice as you spoke about your family - and your dad in particular. Love the sound of your summers. It's quite different down here, apart from the swimming. My dad had been a surf lifesaver so water played a major part in our upbringing and my brother and I both became quite good swimmers - we weren't allowed not to be! Poor Mum hated water, couldn't swim, detested the sea - the fact that she put up with all those beachside holidays was a sign of how much she must have loved us!

When I was a kid, you could only get watermelons and mangoes and other summer fruits for a very short time. These days, different varieties mean the seasons lasts for months - although I have to say I think the flavour has suffered as a result.

Virginia said...

Congrats lime!

This has been a very busy summer more work then vacation, but I want go into that! My favorite season would have to be spring and fall, because the tempts are cooler. Also in the spring you have the flower blooming like the world is coming alive.

When I was younger we use to lay out on the hood of a car and watch the stars on warm summer evenings. Setting out on the poarch swing. As far as food goes, burgers and hotdogs on the grill with cook outs.

Lynz Pickles said...

Congrats, lime!

My favourite season is summer, but I don't want to talk about this one. It was horrible, absolutely horrible. Thankfully I get a second summer in Mexico this winter! (If that makes sense.)

What do I associate with summer? SWIMMING! And soy sauce-marinated flank steak with tomatoes covered in basil sauce and four-layer chocolate cake. On the Sunday before school started, my parents would always have a dinner with special foods to celebrate the end of summer. We'd invite a few friends and my maternal grandparents, and have the most lovely evenings. Of course, two days later I'd have to go back to school, which was never fun.

Helen said...

Well done limcello he must really be enjoying your place

Beautiful post Nancy Our summer vactions last about 5 to 6 weeks her in Australia and of course Chrissy is right in the middle so for me summer is hot weather Christmas New Year and we always went on holidays for about 2 weeks either to the beach or to my grandparents hobby farm (which wasn't that far from a beach)lots of watermelon Cherries peaches and I love nectrines. It is starting to warm up here now and it won't be long before all of my favourite fruits are in the shops and of course I love salads yum.

My favourite season has always been autumn and winter I just always feel comfortable and I love stews and soups hot apple pie roast dinners.

Although any season is a great time for reading I don't think I will ever make a dint in my TBR pile but I love.

My thoughts to the couple getting married I hope all goes well.

Have Fun

Christine Wells said...

Nancy, what a beautiful piece! I love the sound of peaches and peach ice cream, and swimming in the ocean. Here, it's living with sandy feet and stringy hair and salt on your skin at the beach, fresh cherries and mangoes, cold cooked seafood and ice cream. Barbecues sizzling and freshly mown grass. I love summer, can you tell? Can't wait for it to arrive down here in Oz.

Jane said...

Hi Nancy,
When I was still in school, we usually went on vacation during the summer. We would visit Europe and Asia. Now I wish I could go traveling during the summer. Fresh fruits like watermelon, strawberries and lichees, hot dogs and grilled corn represent summer to me.

Nancy said...

Hi, Limecello--I hope you'll keep the rooster busy.

Sorry summer wasn't fun. I hope fall will be better.

After he retired, my dad grew strawberries in a little bed by the driveway. I think the birds got most of them, but he managed to snag a few.

Nancy said...

Thanks, Jo, for the kind words about the post and the good wishes for the bride and groom. There's a forecast for more rain in the area today. We're leaving in a little bit but plan to call when it gets to be a decent hour and see if we should keep driving south or if their lives are easier if fewer people show up.

It's funny--I remember catching fireflies and putting them in a jar, but I don't remember what we did with them after that.

Nancy said...

Hi, Anna--

Thanks. How cool about your dad!

Yeah, I remember when fresh produce was available only when locally in season, and I agree that the fruits transported a long way don't taste as good. If I can't have a vine-ripened tomato for my sandwich, I just won't bother.

Nancy said...

Hi Virginia--

Spring and fall are definitely better for grilling out around here--less humid and no mosquitoes. The dh likes to grill. My dad had a hibachi he used to make burgers and hot dogs.

We have a swing in the back yard, but we can't use it in the summer--too many biting bugs, especially mosquitoes. In other seasons, it's a nice place to sit and read.

That's a pretty phrase about the world coming to life.

Nancy said...

Hi, Lynz--

Your off-season "summer" sounds wonderful. I envy it.

How nice that your family celebrated summer's end with a big gathering. We used to have those only on holidays.

Nancy said...

Hi, Helen--

Thanks for the kind wishes on the post and for the young couple, my cousin's son and his bride. They can dine out on this story for the next half century, but they have to get to "I do" first.

Cherries and nectarines . . . yum. Making my mouth water. So is the apple pie. A friend of ours here makes fabulous apple pies, but it's truly a gargantuan task.

Nancy said...

Hi, Christine--

I can, indeed, tell that you love summer! It sounds fabulous as you describe it. I'd forgotten about the seafood, which we had only at the beach when I was growing up. There weren't any seafood restaurants ("fish camps," they were called) near our house.

Nancy said...

Jane, how terrific your summers sound! I've never been to Asia. My dad grew up in the Phillipines, but we never went there. The boy may visit Japan next summer, though, if all goes well. He loves manga and anime, so he's really crossing his fingers.

Nancy said...

Must go spruce myself up and hit the road. Back later. :-)

Christie Kelley said...

Great post, Nancy. Have a wonderful time at the wedding.

My summer was busy. Real estate picked up and I had my 4th book due on September 1st. And of course, a fantastic vacation without the kids.

But fall is my favorite season. I love cool crisp air coming through my office windows this morning.

It's Saturday so I'm off to clean house. Then we have a community pig roast this afternoon. Unfortunately, they're calling for rain this afternoon. I'm keeping my fingers crosses that we won't get it until later.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Ah, Nancy, what a wonderful post. And now I suddenly have a hankering for peach cobbler, which is sad, since I have the makings of a tart apple pie in my refridgerator for dinner tonight.

Summer vacation....uh...I went to Washington DC for RWA this year. Yep, that's it. Why? Well, y'all have heard me say this more than once. July - Oct is my busy season at work. Babies everywhere. (We had 14 including 2 sets of twins just this past Thursday.) Two of our own were out on Maternity leave since I got back from Wasington! So, Overtime!!! (May pay for a trip to RT conference in my hometown next spring, so that's okay!)

But all this is okay as I'm an Autumn person, in coloring and spirit. I love the coolness of the evenings, the crunch of leaves beneath my feet, the change in the trees, apple and pumpkin deserts, fall flowers. Holidays, birthdays. excited it is now officially AUTUMN!

Anna Sugden said...

Lovely post, Nancy - safe travels.

All the seasons have thing about them which I love, but I have to admmit summer is my favourite. I'm a sun-baby and love the warm weather.

I also love the long days - it's light here until after 10pm. I also love flowers and simmer fruits and ice cream and beach holidays.

I love wearing summer dresses and floaty skirts and going without tights or stockings.

And ... my birthday *g*, though, these days I'm less keen on it.

The only thing I don't like about summer - other than the lack of air con over here, is wasps!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Lime! You got the bird!

Nancy, what a great post. It evoked so many memories, esp. the part about the peaches. Love those SC peaches. Ahhhhh!

My favorites are autumn and winter. I'm a cold weather girl. I tend to wilt in the heat, so I like it best when I can go w/ a jacket or turtleneck and sweatshirt. I'm kind of like your DH - it just doesn't get so cold in DC that I feel like I need a jacket or heavy coat. Ha!

My summer vacation was a blur - beach with the family, RWA, book promotion. My Daddy's 90th birthday was this summer and that was huge fun. He's been ill though, so that has made the summer's end more of a blur with running up and down the highway. :>

Now, howver, there's a nip in the night air and I'm joyfully looking forward to being able to be outside without the afrementioned wilting. Grins.

Beth said...

What a lovely post, Nancy! My summer was very nice but also busy with all the running we had to do with the kids.

For me summer is cuddling one of my kids when they come home from the local pool, their hair smelling of chlorine and sunshine *g*

There are strawberries (and making strawberry jam) fresh blueberries from our bushes, and lots of fresh tomatoes (we love Paula Deen's recipe for tomato pie!)

I also love having a campfire in the back yard. We make s'mores and mountain pies (either with fruit pie filling or pizza sauce and mozzarella), hot dogs and corn on the cob. For an hour or two, we just sit and talk and watch the flickering flames :-)

But my favorite season is fall. There's something about a new school year that signals a fresh start to me. Plus, I love the changing trees, the brisk days and cool nights, fresh apples, pumpkins and Halloween *g*

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Ah Beth, a woman after my own heart...pumpkin time! I love the idea of sitting out by the fire with mountain pies (love that term too!) and s'mores. We usually do more of that in fall unless the boys are camping in the backyard. grins.

Cassondra said...

Oh, Nancy! What a sensual blog!

YUMMMMM....homegrown tomatoes. I have many of the same taste associations with summer, though we never had homemade ice cream, we always had a box in the freezer and bowls of it topped with fruit or cones to put it in. Then there was the weekly trip to Dairy Queen, which was not open in the winter. Watching for Dairy Queen's opening each spring, and mourning its closing each fall, were seasonal rituals.


And more watermelon. Fresh peaches, yes. Apples. Sweet corn from the garden in midsummer. The SMELLS...fresh cut hay, fresh cut lawn, earth being turned over for crops...ahhh..

This will seem very strange to most people, but one of the most compelling tastes of summer in my memory was a slice of fresh bologna, cut from the roll, on white bread with Miracle Whip and a big slice of home grown tomato. That's what we ate for lunch (from the country store down the road) when we were working in tobacco through the season.

This past week I've been craving thick-sliced bologna. :0(

Cassondra said...

Okay Beth and Jeanne, what's a mountain pie?

Susan Sey said...

Hi, Nancy--

Mmmm, peaches sound good, & I'm nowhere near Georgia. I grew up in Michigan, though, & my home town was an orchard town--lots of apples & peaches. In fact, we're the home of the Peach Festival, complete with the crowning of a Peach Queen. (Never me, in case anybody was kind enough to wonder.)

Around here the end of summer means buckling down & getting back into the school routine. It means evening activities, meetings with teachers, piano lessons, etc. It means alarm clocks & bus schedules & homework. We actually kinda like it. :-)

Anna Campbell said...

Actually the weird thing is summer isn't my favorite season, at least where I live. The other three are beautiful but summer can be really hot and sticky and humid. I remember when I lived in England, though, how summer was so beautiful. At least when it wasn't raining! They seem to get a lot of rain in summer in England. Guess that's the trade-off for it being so green. And the last two times I've visited in the summer, it's poured so hard, they've had major flooding. Not great when you're travelling around.

Yeah, Nancy, I always thought Dad being a surf lifesaver was pretty cool too.

Anna Sugden said...

LOL Anna - don't tell mu hubby that about the rain. We're almost in drought conditions here in Cambridge! Perhaps you need to come and visit asap ... to rescue hubbies poor thirsty veggies!

EilisFlynn said...

Summers in the Pacific Northwest and in Japan are pretty different, but one thing they do have in common is watermelon. The small round ones in Japan, and the bigger, oblong ones in the US, although the small round ones are more and more in evidence these days. And fireworks; in the US they're not legal except on July 4 thereabouts, but I remember fondly seeing fireworks frequently during summer nights over the water near my grandmother's home outside of Tokyo.

What I have managed to forget, however, is that Japan in the summer is HOT. And I don't like overwhelming, sticky heat!

Tawny said...

What a lovely post, Nancy :-)

I love whatever season I'm in. There's something special about each of them, so I can't really say I have a favorite.

One of the things I do love about summer is the fruit, and luscious salads. Anything with berries (of any kind) is my favorite summer food.

Beth said...

Okay Beth and Jeanne, what's a mountain pie?

Our mountain pies are simply white bread with filling *g* We use a mountain pie maker, butter both sides, add the bread and filling. My older daughter likes cherry pie filling and you can always add sugar/cinnamon to the buttered side so it's a bit sweeter.

We all like pizza ones. Just use pizza sauce, cheese and other toppings. The mountain pie maker smooshes the bread together and you cook it over a fire.

I'm going to try and put a link to a mountain pie maker so you can see it. Hope it works :-)

Tawny said...

Wow, Anna? A surf lifesaver? Thats such a cool job. Does that mean your dad was a surfer and a lifeguard combined, or that he was a beach lifeguard? Or... tell all :-D

Tawny said...

Beth!!! Yum. My dad had one of those when I was a kid. I loved those sandwiches and pies. I don't recall how he heated the food, though. Fire? Stove? Oven? How's it work?

Nancy said...

Hi, Christie--

Thanks. Glad you had a good summer. I assume you got that book in, so congratulations! I'm eager to read it.

The wedding was held in the reception venue, modern with lots of glass but also lots of stone and wood. It was simple and lovely despite the rain, which really wasn't bad until we were about 45 minutes from home. The groom is my cousin's son on my mom's side, and my other cousins on that side of the family were there, too, so that was nice.

I hope the weather holds up for the pig roast.

Nancy said...

Suz, thank you. I haven't had peach cobbler in years. Tart apple pie sounds wonderful, too.

When I think of autumn, I remember that musty smell of newly raked leaves. We used to roll around in them, back in the days when burning them wasn't illegal. And of course, pumpkins, jack o'lanterns for Jeanne and the other Halloween fiends here, and cool, crisp nights.

Nancy said...

Anna, glad you liked it. The trip was pretty smooth, thanks. The last time we were on your side of the pond, I had something called summer pudding--made with bread and red berries, that was absolutely fabulous!

Wasps, ugh! They make the mosquitoes seem nicer.

Nancy said...

Jeanne, thanks. As we drove back today, I cast a glance at the stand where we bought peaches, but I think what they're selling now are peach products--salsa, cider, jam--rather than actual peaches. But I'm not sure. We weren't inclined to stop in the drizzling rain.

You mean the wind coming off the Potomac or the tidal basin doesn't make you want a jacket? I would. But I get cold easily, so I'm unlikely to be a winter fan. Though I'm told my colors are winter.

Nancy said...

Beth, you have your own blueberries? I'm so jealous! We love blueberries. We have a blackberry bush, but the birds get most of the berries.

Sitting around the fire sounds wonderful, s'mores or no. We've thought of getting one of those portable outdoor braziers for the patio, but the last few falls have had burning restrictions, so we didn't. After this rainy summer, though, maybe we could.

This mountain pie sounds interesting. And versatile. I've never had that before.

Pissenlit said...

My summer didn't exactly include a vacation per se but it wasn't that bad. I survived a season of softball without getting hit in the head with the ball. I was the Most Appreciated Player on my team...hahaha, I never thought I'd win a sports-related trophy! Oh, this summer, I somehow went cake-less for my birthday. I'm contemplating just buying myself a cake to make up for it. Hahaha!

I associate giant(for me, the mandatory size is the largest available!) slushies with Summer...Preferably half-grape, half-orange(or Coke if it's from the corner store). As for activities, interior camping, even though I haven't gone in years.

I don't have a favourite season 'cause I like all four of them for different reasons.

Nancy said...

Cassondra, glad you liked it. I love the story about DQ! We have yet to make a DQ run at National. Maybe 2010 will be the year.

I'd forgotten the smell of cut grass. My dad would always wait to cut the grass until about 2 p.m., and my mom would fret that he was out during the hottest part of the day. I think he liked it, though. Then he'd rake the cut grass. When we were drafted to help, that smell was always so strong.

We never grew corn, though my uncle did. The dh buys it at the farmers market in the summer. He tried it in his garden, but it didn't fertilize properly. A friend who grew up on a farm said we needed a bigger plot of corn for cross-pollination or some such.

I was never a big bologna fan, but my parents only ever bought white bread. My earliest memories of tomato sandwiches are with Merita white bread. And mayo, of course. I hope you get that bologna craving satisfied soon.

Nancy said...

Hi, Susan--I wouldn't have thought of peach festivals in your part of the country. How cool! I think of cherries when I think of Michigan.

Nancy said...

Anna, I agree with you on summer in England. The summer I spent there was beautiful. They were having a drought, which broke the day I took a bus tour to Stonehenge (naturally!), but the gardens were gorgeous, and the humidity was nothing like here.

Nancy said...

Hi, Eilis--

I didn't realize the round watermelons were Japanese. I'll have to tell the boy!

When I think of July 4 fireworks, I remember the ones over NYC on your wedding day. Summer here, of course, is hot and sticky, too. As you may remember. And I remember you and your dh razzing me because I needed a blanket when I visited you in the summer a few years back.

Nancy said...

Hi, Tawny--

Glad you liked the post. I love berries in summer, too. I eat better in the summer because I get berries and sweeten cottage cheese or nonfat yogurt, then mix them in, and call it breakfast or lunch.

Nancy said...

Beth, I'm going to check out this mountain pie maker. It sounds intriguing. Thanks for the link.

Nancy said...

Pissenlit, congrats on the MVP award! And on not getting beaned. :-)

I've never mixed grape and orange. I may have to try it. I do like Coke slushies, though.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

How was the wedding Nancy?

My colors are "undetermined" - Ha! Back when that color thing was popular, the gal who was supposed to do mine never could figure me out. Green eyes, green undertone to the skin mean I look good in some autumnal colors, but " by the book" I'm a spring. Problem? I look terrrible in pastels. :>

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oh, forgot to say...peach salsa? YUM!!!

Linda Henderson said...

My summer was great. My new granddaughter came home after spending 4 month in the NICU. So summer was great for us. For my youngest daughter's birthday on 8/30 we went to a cookout at her grandparents in law and I had homemade ice cream for the first time in so many years I can't remember. My favorite time of year is fall or autumn whichever you choose to call it. I love the colors of fall and pumpkins. Can't wait for my first pumpkin pie.

Anna Campbell said...

Tawny, surf lifesavers are a bit of an Aussie icon. They wear a rather bizarre costume including a dinky little hat which I suspect has a practical purpose of being easily seen in the water (bright red and yellow). Here's the Wikipedia entry. What I really wanted was some gorgeous guys without their shirts on but I didn't have a lot of luck finding them - they're clearly all too conscious of skin cancer these days. When Dad was a member, they were all voluntary although I think there's quite a few people who do it as a career now. But they patrol the surf beaches in Australia and save people. Pretty darn heroic, if you ask me!

Anna Campbell said...

Anna, I would LOVE to visit and save you from your dry summer. The last few summers over there have been terrible! Clearly I am a rain god!

Nancy said...

Jeanne, the wedding was lovely, thanks. The water supply to the reception venue had been restored, so they held the wedding there--it's very modern with lots of glass but also lots of stone and wood, very pretty.

I wouldn't have picked pastels for you, either, though a basic description of your coloring would imply they'd do well.

I've had peach salsa, and it was good. And I really NEED something else to encourage me to eat chips.

Nancy said...

Linda, that sounds like a great summer. The dh is very fond of pumpkin pie, so I know he's looking forward to that. And to acorn squash, which we only have in the fall and winter.

Pat Cochran said...

Hi Nancy,

No summer to speak of for us, it
was too hot for anything! Our temps
were in the triple ranges, it was
judged to be too dangerous to spend
much time outdoors. We even had a
few deaths in the city due to the
heat. The only highlight was in
mid-September when Honey and I attended the 55th reunion of my high school graduating class. Thank goodness it was cooler in
the Texas Hill country where we
gathered for the celebration!

Pat Cochran