Friday, June 3, 2011

Deck Time: The First Day of Summer

I celebrate the first real day of summer by coming home early from work, the can of lawnmower gas refilled, and toss my dress shirt on the bed. Finding a pair of shorts in the bottom of my drawer, and a tank top, I lope outside to find the lawnmower. I stop briefly to fling open a few windows and prop open a door, letting real air come into the house, the humidity and dankness of gray days actually unnoticeable for once.

A nearly forgotten tube of sunscreen is found, and I slather a bit on my shoulders. Sunburn is a possibility today, a new concept around here.

For the first time this year, the grass flies out of the lawnmower not in thick, wet clumps, but like real grass, and the clippings don’t pile up in fat, slick sheets of soggy green. The sun is warm on my bare shoulders, and there is actually a warm breeze out of the northeast.

Tree leaves and grape leaves and every other kind of leaf doubled their size today, and the resulting photosynthesis gives the air more oxygen than I can handle.

Later, the lawnmower silent again, I find a glass of wine and my chair on the deck, being warm and dry and actually sitting on my deck, in shorts and tank top, and not freezing.

Karen has been planting today, most of the garden now marked with stakes and rows of dirt, and a few rows of seedlings emerging from the warming soil.

The wind chimes sing their gentle song, and the wind carries the faint voice of my neighbor, talking about how long it takes to cook the burgers. The summer smell of barbecue wafts across the deck, another new smell of the season we have been wanting to call summer. I’m usually in the house, drizzle or rain falling, clad in sweats on the couch.

Two more days of this, the weatherman promises, and I am thinking of summer life here. I need to find another pair of shorts, and toughen up the soles of my feet, getting used to walking barefoot and not wearing Gortex. It may even be time to hang up my collection of raincoats and sweat shirts for the summer.

We eat on the deck, and soak up the warmth. Our neighbor’s barbecue smoke adds to the good taste of dinner, and we talk, mostly about the pigeons and the goldfinches, the garden, and Karen’s day in the garden. The plants on the deck are starting to look healthy, and there are a few blooms to be found.

Later on, I play my guitar on the rocker, soaking up the late evening sun with my shirt off, playing some chords and practicing some strumming patterns. My other neighbor comes out to check on his horses and mow the rest of his lawn, his white legs bright against his shorts and the deep green of his lawn.

The young man I’ve been mentoring in prison calls, excited about the weather, and the book Karen sent him, and the pictures I took of our garden. We talk about the tree I planted last week, in his honor, over by the fire pit area. He wants to play cribbage with me on Sunday, when we have our visit. And, probably have our coffee and popcorn, and talk about his week. He’s growing stronger, I can tell it in his voice. Confidence is on the rise, and his smile comes through the phone, becoming content within his own skin.

A neighbor’s voice calls out to his dog, and I can hear the young dog running around on the grass, enjoying the evening with his master. Listening to their voices, I’m not sure who is having more fun.

This first real day of summer fills everything around here, green becoming greener, almost iridescent. Everything smells fresh, alive, and growing, including my spirit.

Sonny the Cat finally comes in from his day, chomping down his dinner, and getting ready for a deep sleep at the foot of my bed. After a day in the sun, he will dream of mice and warmth on his belly, his tail and paws twitching a bit as his brain sorts through the joys of a June day, a day when the sun finally came out.

June 3, 2011

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