The Perfect Summer Afternoon

Weekend Meditation

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Since Memorial Day weekend is the official beginning of summer for those of us who live in the USA, my mind has turned to fantasizing about what a perfect summer afternoon would be. Of course, finding just one vision of perfection becomes immediately problematic as I sift through all the things on my summer to-do list. 

There's the busy, accomplished stuff like a visit to the local organic U-Pick and the canning blow-out that will soon follow. There's the hike with picnic, or the more abbreviated park bench with picnic, and the even more realistic backyard with snacks. Alfresco lunches in the sun dappled courtyard, naps in shady hammocks, pesto-making marathons, road trips to the beach, reading a novel in one sitting — the promise of summer seeps into my consciousness even as the last cool mornings of spring have me reaching for my sweater.

The other day, though, it grew warm enough for me to launch into my summer fantasies by knocking off early and heading into my backyard for some quiet time under the the shade of the snowball tree. I assembled my props with care:

The Drink: An icy Michelada (Mexican beer, juice of a lime, dash of hot sauce, dash of worchester sauce, salty rim. And lots of ice.)  
The Book: Michael Pollan's Cooked.  (Not to be missed. Look for a review soon!)
The Snacks: Avocado toast with a crisp whole radish on the side.
The Sounds: Bird song, chickens getting cluck-y and restless in the afternoon heat, the faintest rock-n-roll from my teenage neighbor's window.
The Smells: The last of the spring roses still in bloom, a nearby grill being fired up,  the faint whiff of tomato foliage from when I plucked a shriveled leaf from my valiant and astonishingly still alive Black Trifele plant.
The Thoughts: Not much of anything, to be frank. And isn't that the point? The human mind, like the human heart, is a relentless overachiever, never resting for a second, always sorting, defining, categorizing, replaying, hoping, wishing, dreaming, obsessing. What a relief, what an astonishingly beautiful thing it is, to let it all recede into the background and to lift my face into the dappled sun and let a singular note of pleasure wash over me. My forgotten drink sweats and melts, my abandoned book flutters in my lap. Summer, once a list of activities to take place sometime in the future, comes roaring in and I give over to it completely. Summer is now and it is perfect.

(Image: Dana Velden)