a new manifesto

Front yards are boring. Backyards tell stories. -- James Stevenson

I hope I can admit it when I'm wrong. So this is me, admitting: as far back as I can remember, I've declared (rather passionately) that I hate summers. Hate them. Which usually makes people look at me as if I've said something inhuman. What kind of a girl hates summer?

A girl who dislikes slow suffocation, I grumble back. St. Louis humidity is not a gentle thing. And so I prefer what I call Jane Eyre weather over a sizzling July. Not a hard choice.

But they haven't been summers like this.

Today was another gorgeous day, another blaze of writing productivity, another glorious evening. They are gifts, days like this.

A simple supper of eggs and toast, and coffee with Kristen. The coffee taken out to our new deck--recently replaced amidst all the home renovating going on here. The old deck was very exciting but not inviting: you didn't know when and where you might fall through. This new one is entirely inviting. It invited us and our coffee and a dozen hungry mosquitoes.

But the evening was perfect. Perfect. For drinking hazelnut coffee and talking about everything--our weeks and what was on our minds. She introduced me to Owl City, music that completed the summer air.

She worked on a painting, and I decoupaged our ... what to call it? It's the thing that hangs in a foyer to cover the guts of the doorbell. That hideous olivey-puce bit of plastic. That. Covering it is a social service, a saving of civilization...

So we talk. Rave about coffee. Swat mosquitoes. Spray bug repellent. Then find a mosquito actually sitting on the repellent bottle. Consider effectiveness of repellent. Continue swatting. I stick my fingers together with decoupage glue. She stands back to judge her painting. We turn the music up.

We're there until the light is nearly gone, and I am squinting at my project. The sunset would make every artist devote her life to the study of clouds. What kind of God makes the sky his ever-changing, breath-taking canvas? As we're marveling, the bat flicks through.

And then we're shouting at it, cheering it on. Eat those mosquitoes! It is very welcome here.

She has a petsitting job, so I go with her to visit Phoebe. Phoebe the Wonder Dog, I call her. She is so frightened of me that I spend the visit apologizing as she quivers away from me. So I wander the garden behind her house, smelling the flowers, and thinking about gardens at night. On the ride home, I look at the profiles of other drivers. And I think that profiles for some artists (or some writers?) could be what clouds are to others...

So it was a day for revising. For changing my mind. A week like this will make me uproot my thesis about summer, my dissertation on humidity and glare and hundred-degree heat. I will love rainy days and sleet and fog and their accompanying atmosphere, no question. But I think now I have room for loving summer, this kind of summer. Let's make them all like this, please.

It was a full day. And I'm up too late. But there is something intoxicating about such beauty. I hope that it's contagious. That maybe, if I stare long and hard enough, it will soak in, and pour through my dreams. I'll go find out.


  1. Oh, what I would give give to be able to write or speak like that! Beautiful!

  2. well if next summer isn't like this, you are MORE than welcome to spend it in chicago! you'd have to search long and hard to find a bad day!