A friend of mine Facebook-shared this New York Times article about the end of summer, and reading it felt like taking a walk through my late-August psyche. Summer always begins with such promise for me–there will be at least five ferris wheel rides, I say, and a couple of weekend trips out to wine country. Plus patio dinners every weekend, barbecues with friends, boat rides and bike rides. This will be the summer I buy a new bike, I tell myself. Oh, and berry picking too–not a May goes by when I don’t make plans to pick strawberries in June and raspberries in July.
From the perch of spring, summer always looks “as wide open and shimmering with possibility as the summers of childhood.”
And then summer arrives, and anticipation turns to reality. Two hours in stop-and-go traffic to get out to the strawberry fields? I take a pass and drag the kids to the grocery store down the street where we pick up a clamshell of California strawberries.
And yes a ferris wheel ride would be lovely, but I devote Saturday to picking tiles for my bathroom or some such thing. “Next weekend,” I promise, weekend after warm weekend passing by, until I forget about it entirely.
Before I know it, the early mornings are dark again, Starbucks is pushing its Pumpkin Spice everything (the ultimate harbinger of autumn) and those richly sweet local tomatoes make way for butternuts, acorns and delicatas.
“Whoa, where did the summer go?” I wonder, as I find myself wandering in the lunch meat aisle once again.
We didn’t make it out to wine country this year, but I did take my daughter for her first swim in the Pacific Ocean. At the same beach where I wiled away my own childhood summers. I drove up to the Canadian Shield and tossed myself into a frigid lake. And my brother and I took a couple of kayaks for a paddle into the Vancouver sunset. I hiked with an old friend. I ran, fully clothed, through a sprinkler. And my toddler learned how to say “I love you”.
I didn’t end up going raspberry picking, but I did pick up some beautiful zucchini at a local farmers’ market. And I discovered that sliced into thin wide strips and tossed with lemony vinaigrette, zucchini tastes a bit like pappardelle. I made at least four peach crumbles and five grilled green bean salads. I taught my daughter how to pick ripe tomatoes and baby kale from my parents’ vegetable garden. And I remembered something that an Okanagan farmer told me some 20 years ago: corn tastes best when it is raw.
As the sun sets on August 31, I shave a few sweet corn cobs into a mixing bowl and crumble feta through my fingers. I tear basil, chop green onions, squeeze the sunshine out of a lime, and gently stir letting the starchy-sweet juice of the corn wrap its arms around everything else. We eat it on the patio with a glass of white wine, drenched in evening light and a late summer heatwave.
There is promise in September too, isn’t there? Sharp pencil crayons, crisp mornings, new teachers, red leaves, and cozy scarves. Oh, and trips to the pumpkin patch. This is the year I will finally take the kids pumpkin picking. Long drive, be damned.
- 3 sweet cobs of corn
- 3 green onions, chopped
- A large handful of basil, finely chopped
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup finely crumbled feta cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Cut the kernels off the corn cobs and dump them into a medium-sized salad bowl. Add the green onions, basil, lime juice and olive oil and stir to combine.
- Add the feta cheese, stir gently to combine, then season to taste with salt and pepper.