This is midsummer


My in-box is full of back-to-school sales. My freezer is full of popsicles and nobody wants to eat anything except sliced cucumbers, cold cereal, or banana milkshakes. We drink chilled, pink wine or lemonade over crushed ice, and sleep on top of the sheets.

We finally had our huge and sorrowful lawn aerated, sprinklers adjusted, but it seems like a close call. There’s so much thatch, white clover, and lesser trefoil I begin to think we should let it go wild.

We once took the train to California — my mother, my brother, and me. She packed bagel sandwiches in tinfoil (when bagels, in Colorado, were so unknown my schoolmates teased me about bringing donuts in my lunch). As the cars pulled away and down the track, we waved to my father from the window, my heart breaking in the terribly woeful melodrama of a 9-year-old-girl. We made it to my aunt’s, and spent three late-summer weeks eating shaved ice and boogie boarding at Hermosa Beach.

I don’t remember if we took the train home, or flew, or drove? But when we got back to our shabby and magical little stucco house, my father told us to go see the backyard. We ran, expecting perhaps a new swingset or a puppy.

The grass was a foot high, at least, full of seedy stems and huge dandelions, little white moths and bees. He’d let it go wild while we were away, the push mower at rest in the crumbling garage. We walked through this tiny meadow, pushing at the tangled grasses with our knees, laughing at how the clothesline seemed closer to the ground, wondering at how something could change so much when you’re away.

I’m curious now if he ran out of time to mow before my mother came back, or saved it on purpose for us to see, did they argue about it, or laugh? Later, I watched him through the wavy glass of the eating nook window, the whicka-whicka-whicka of the mower and the green falling flat behind the blades.

1 thought on “This is midsummer

  1. When you left I filled the hole with work. 12, sometimes 14 hours each day at the furniture making shop. The lawn mowing fell away into insignificance, as did enjoying our tiny patch of green.
    No arguement followed. The push mower came out and all was put back in order in minutes. It was a tiny yard.
    I came out to California to join you. We had one brief few hours on the beach, we went to Marineland and saw the dolphins, and we drove home to Colorado.
    It was another era, for all of us.
    Thanks for the memories, so beautifully evoked.

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