Tuesday, July 5, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things...

Coming off of a glorious holiday weekend, and with a trip back east planned for later this month, my thoughts today have turned continually to the general splendor of summer.  Here is a cross-pollinated list of favorite summer pastimes from both youth and adulthood:

1.       Bare feetness:  The rule in our house was that when it was warm, we could go outside barefoot.  This, for whatever reason, was quite the treat for me as a young child and I spent the majority of my summers romping around shoeless in my backyard.  And, consequently, building up the sort of callouses that to this day make me an undesirable customer for pedicures.  I also suspect that my affinity for rollicking barefoot outdoors is closely related to my love of Jane Austen film adaptations as well as my hatred of wearing socks and close-toed shoes (which I will only deign to wear when it is too unreasonably cold for me not to).

A certain slant of light in my parents' back yard

2.      Biking[1]: This of course, can be done year-round, especially when living somewhere like Los Angeles (where there are no elements to brave except the occasional rainfall).  But biking, in upstate New York, is at its most pleasurable in the summer months.  I have incredibly fond memories of riding in circles around the barn, silo, and tenant house on my grandparent’s farm.  And of biking up and down the hilly dirt road near my parent’s house with my siblings.  One summer, on a bike adventure with my mother and sister, my sister found a charming little clearing in a nearby wooded area that was bordered by white blossomed trees.  It was enchanting.  Like something out of the Secret Garden.  I have since tried to bike back to where I remember it being but have never been able to find it.  It's possible that it has been swallowed by brush or by tickets.  Or it is possible that it never existed and I just dreamed the whole thing up…

The woods by my parents' house

3.      Berries berries berries: Now that I am an avid baker, the wide and varied selection of fresh berries over the summer has taken on a greater significance.  Yes, they make for a delicious snack, but they also allow me to do one of my most favorite things: make pies (see note in my previous blog about becoming my polish grandmother).  I adore making pies.  When I take a freshly baked berry pie out of the oven, I feel very nearly perfectly content.  Why does making pies fill me with such unadulterated joy and ease, you ask?  I’m not entirely sure.  But this doesn’t exactly strike me as the sort of thing that I really need to “work out” in order to become a better person.  In fact, I challenge you to find a single criminal or troubled senator who is a pie maker.  Maybe that’s our answer to a better society.

Here is the blueberry pie that I made yesterday for the 4th.

4.      Laundry hung outside to dry: I cannot do this in Los Angeles.  Not only because Moses and I don’t have the space but because any laundry that would be strung up outside our apartment to dry would inevitably be caked with a thick layer of black filth (courtesy of the Los Angeles air pollution).  This is incredibly unfortunate as there is nothing quite like sleeping on a set of sheets that have been ruffled by a sweet summer zephyr.  Drying laundry outdoors is also great fun.  My sister and I used to run through the walls of wet sheets hanging on the clothes line as we played (barefoot) in our back yard.  They were cool and smelt good and it was utterly delightful.

A fun (somewhat) non sequitur photo I took last summer

5.      Summer beverages:  There is something so delicious about being able to sit outdoors (on a deck or balcony or porch or patio) and sip a cold beer or glass of sangria at 12 in the afternoon without judgment.  Maybe it’s the weekend, maybe it’s not—you’re just enjoying the sunshine and languidness of the summer and no one thinks any less of you.  Summer is also the ideal season for one of my all-time favorite (non-alcoholic) beverages: iced coffee.  I dream about iced coffee—I thirst for it—especially if it’s even the slightest bit hot.  A coffee shop in Ithaca (that is serious about its coffee) uses coffee ice cubes in their iced coffee, so as not to dilute it.  Why more coffee shops don’t do this is puzzling to me.  It’s genius.  And every summer I have these delusions of grandeur that this will be the summer that I will actually make my own ice coffee in this manner—that I will have the foresight (and restraint) to pour some of my left over coffee into ice cube trays and let it freeze overnight.  Seems simple enough but this never happens.  I get too lazy and impatient and forgetful and just end up grumpily drinking hot coffee or walking to a local coffee shop to purchase some iced coffee (made at no inconvenience to me).  Yes, I know.  I’m incorrigible.

A doubly fun picture of me enjoying a decadent iced coffee beverage
To be continued…

[1] This we were not allowed to do with bare feet (that would be dangerous).

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