Saturday, September 3, 2016

Farewell to Summer's Joys

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: This weekend marks the official end of summer here in the US. Grade schools and high schools have already started, although many, like Youngest, had an easy first week, with classes only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The college students who haven't already arrived on campus are moving in this weekend, and everyone whose office had summer flexible Friday hours will have to go back to the regular schedule next week.

Here in Maine, the temperature is already starting to lower, with more days only getting to a high in the seventies, and more nights in the fifties. It often feels as if a celestial switch gets turned on around the Forth of July and turned off right after Labor Day. What was left undone - a float down the Saco River, building a firepit - must stay undone until next summer.

I was having these somewhat melancholy thoughts because I was making my favorite late-summer treat, an open-faced tomato sandwich with Miracle Whip. What epitomizes the transient joys of summer like a home grown tomato? Our neighboring farm is bursting with them, and they let me take the ones that aren't pretty enough to sell at market, so I am gorging on panzanella, insalata caprese, crostini and good old American tomato sammiches. Of all the pleasures of summer, I will miss these tomatoes most of all.

How about you, Reds? What do you hate to say good-bye to this weekend?

RHYS BOWEN: Wearing white! Officially it is socially unacceptable to wear white after Labor Day, so I'm told. But it's my favorite color and it looks good on me, and it will stay hot in California for at least another two months, so I'm going to defy convention and keep wearing it.

Foodwise I adore cherries and this year has been a really long season for them. And local peaches and plums. And sitting outside on my balcony as the wind comes in from the ocean and cools things down and the lights go on in the valley below. But of course I cheat: when it gets cold and wet in California, I fly south with the birds and spend the winter in Arizona. A wimp, I know.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  There's something slower about summer, even though my life and responsibilities are exactly the same. I love to take walks during the day, see how beautiful the world's also great in the fall, thought, and spring.  Sitting outside in our backyard by the pool, and floating on the air mattress things, and cooking out. Love that.  That the daylight lasts longer.  And in Boston, there's much less traffic (unless you are driving to the Cape between Thursday afternoon and Friday night, or returning on Sunday. NIGHTMARE.  And gosh, I love tomatoes.

LUCY BURDETTE: Cherries, peaches and blueberries at their peak--I will sure miss them. And once John beat back the onslaught of woodchucks, our garden has been amazing. We've been giving away gorgeous tomatoes left and right, and our neighbors run when we bear down on them with zucchini... But fall is nice too--no humidity, and the dog is willing to walk much further. And like Rhys, we flee when it gets too chilly! Already thinking about my friends in Key West:).

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Will miss tomatoes, corn, peaches, all of the daylight, fireflies, cookouts, roasted marshmallows, walking around without a jacket.... But I'm not going to miss the heat. Also, as everyone with a kid still in school knows — it's time for the little darlings to go back.

JULIA: Oh, yes, Susan. As the advert says, "It's the most wonderful time of the year..."

HALLIE EPHRON: I won't miss the ants, but I will so miss the flicker (a great big woodpecker) who visits our stone patio to drill between the stones for them. I'll miss the huge pot of fresh basil on my back steps that I can squeeze-and-sniff for a shot of summer. Also the peaches a plums. They've been amazing this year.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Don't talk to me about ants. I stepped in huge fire ant mound a couple of weeks ago. Ack. So I won't miss them, or the mosquitoes. It was so hot here into mid-August, and I was so busy with the book that I really feel like I missed summer this year. I am enjoying the last of the tomatoes. And basil!! I know we can buy fresh in the supermarket all year these days, but it's not the same as walking out on my deck and picking handfuls. And I will really miss the blueberries. Otherwise I'm looking forward to fall and being able to enjoy being outside again.

HANK: ANTS! Argh. we had the TEENY, almost invisible ones (I looked them up, pharaoh ants) all over our counter for one day. Just one day! Apparently the ants are freaking out with the drought,and  looking for water. I felt bad for them.

JULIA: Debs, you and I are climate opposites - I love fall, but I know it means my time outdoors is limited because... No, I won't say it. Not yet. Dear readers, what are you going to miss about summer? And are you doing anything to say farewell this weekend?


  1. Oh, Miracle Whip . . . yum.
    I shall miss not having to bundle up in my heavy coat, strolling along the boardwalk, blueberries, barbeques, and fresh-from-the-garden vegetables, especially the Italian frying peppers.
    Sad to say, when summer ends, the deer will stop wandering into our back yard.
    As for special weekend doings, the weather folks promise we will be greeting Hermine, so that pretty much eliminates any memorable farewell summer flings . . . .

  2. I love summer, too. Tomatoes, basil, blueberries. Dinner on the deck. The beach - where I'm headed in a few hours! We had NO local peaches this year, though, because of last winter's warm weather and then a frigid snap that killed them all. I hope Hermine wrecks all the cookouts Monday, because we so desperately need some rain around here.

  3. Whatever did in Edith's peaches did in our hydrangea, which are usually in full array by now and are instead flowerless. And yes, bring it on, Hermine! We need the rain.

    1. Yeah, what is it with the hydrangeas this year?

    2. Ours didn't bloom either! Apparently the snow after the hot spell this spring killed off the buds. Or something.

  4. As a morning person, I miss the early sunrises. I am so energized by the early morning light, I can hardly keep up with myself! But as the days shorten, so does my energy.

    I will say this as a person who loves rain, often to the annoyance of others. Now you see what I mean! Rain is a good thing. All living things need it, including hydrangeas, peaches, and humans. A summer rain on the porch reading or writing is the best way to spend a day.

  5. Walking unbundled. Greenery everywhere--especially now--after we finally had enough rain so the yards turned from brown to green. Fresh summer produce. Lying in my swing with a good book to read, a soft breeze, a tickle of sunlight on my toes, and the hummingbirds zooming by to the feeders. Best of all--open windows--every single one of them!

  6. Ants! Don't event mention them.

    I'll miss the longer days. It is nice getting up in the morning at 7 and it's light out. But I don't like the heat - much prefer the cooler fall temps (I'm visiting my dad in Hamburg, NY and I'm sitting on his porch wearing a fleece with a mug of hot tea - it's wonderful).

    Susan, my kids are high schoolers and yes, time for them to go back to school. There were two construction delays at The Boy's high school this year (he completed freshman orientation, first day is Tuesday). The Girl has been back to school for a week already.

    Our garden was kind of a bust this year. We did okay on tomatoes, the peppers are better, and the cooler weather means we're getting beans. But the cucumber actually turned brown and died. I've never seen that before. Oh, the herbs did marvelously (except for the basic, which died and the hubby never told me). What am I going to do with all this sage?

  7. Oh, Julia, you sure do bring back memories with the Miracle Whip. I grew up eating Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise, and I was perfectly happy with it, knowing it was the best dressing for BLTs and tuna salad and any sandwiches. And, then, in my mid-thirties, someone introduced me to Hellman's Mayonnaise. My love for Miracle Whip was ripped right out of my life, replaced by mayonnaise forever more. I still mourn the loss of my beloved Miracle Whip, but I can't shake my mayonnaise addiction. Oh, for a simpler time. Enjoy your Miracle Whip, Julia.

    I will most miss the daylight hours of summer, allowing me to go visit my granddaughters an hour away and still return home before dark. I don't like driving on the parkway between our homes due to the lovely, but unpredictable deer. I will soon be dealing with that again. Fresh, local tomatoes are the food I'll miss, along with the local blueberries. I won't miss the heat. I love fall, so it's not a lingering fondness for summer that I'll suffer. Now, back to our final cookout preparations with the kids and grandkids arriving soon.

  8. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the garden is still wonderful, but will start to fade by mid-October and be done by November. I'll miss the beds full of flowers, the vases of them inside. I'll miss "shorts weather" and wearing flip-flops on the deck instead of sock and shoes. I like the early sunrises too, but the cats think daylight means breakfast time, so they don't let us sleep in during the summer. That early wake-up I won't miss, and here come Fall with the wonderful leaf color. Something to look forward to.

    Here, the Hydrangeas bloom in July, and were beautiful again this year, and now the flower heads, which we leave on for winter interest, are big brown balls and attractive and legions of tiny birds visit them. Also, Fall means the Hosta will start to die back, leaving sizable gaps in the landscape. And tomatoes: love the summer ones, so much better than those at the grocery store. I'll miss them a lot.

  9. Richard, I am so envious of your hydrangea! Crossing fingers for next year…

    And as for hosta :-) the rabbits decimated ours , but the bunnies are so cute, I almost don't care. Almost.

  10. Wait! Our oakleaf hydrangea bloomed perfectly, and are also now looking very beautifully pale and antique-like.

  11. Oh, I love summer and nearly go into mourning when it ends! I love not having to wear a jacket or sweater to go outside, I love the longer days, I love all the fresh fruit and vegetables, I love not having to shovel my way to my car, not having to remove ice and snow, not having to worry about slipping and falling outside. I love the flowers and the green leaves and green grass.

    Autumn and winter are seasons to be endured, sort of like pain!
    Deb Romano

  12. It's a gorgeous weekend here in north Texas, after weeks of muggy miserableness. Highs in upper 80s today, lows in the 60s. We are ecstatic! No big plans, though. Doing some shopping for Bouchercon today, I think, then the rest of the holiday staying home, enjoying the weather, and catching up on things.

  13. We just went to see Anthropoid. Yeesh. (Some fun. Not.) But it was really…consciousness raising. And bleak, but important. ANd I am now thinking about narrative non-fiction.

  14. I'm with Debs. Summer is a time to be endured for me, and I long for fall weather, warm sweaters, and cozy jackets. Here in Texas, our seasons get flip-flopped. We get cabin fever in the summer, because it's too hot and buggy to spend much time outdoors, away from the air conditioning. The temperature barely drops down to the eighties at night. We all hate August with a passion, because it often brings week after weary week of 100 degree temps. And let things slow down? Hah! When I started my job, six years ago, I had two big projects over the summer. This year I had five. They sent me driving all over Dallas, hot, grumpy, and not inclined to forgive the other hot, grumpy drivers I encountered. I count the days until Labor Day weekend, because the heat usually begins to break then, and we get rain, and cooler nights. This year the relief came a couple of weeks early, but I heard exactly zero complaints. Still, there are the tomatoes. As the late, great songwriter, Guy Clark, said, "There's only two things that money can't buy, and that's true love, and homegrown tomatoes." Enjoy them both while they last!