Today, though, today it was 80 degrees after an interminable and bitterly cold winter. Stepping outside tentatively in my cotton skirt and flip flops, I was overwhelmed by sense memories, good ones, the kind that made me sit down on the peeling porch steps and savor them. As the hair at the back of my neck coiled inexorably into ringlets, and the warm air extended its seductive fingers to touch parts of me that have not been unwrapped in public for five months, it seemed that maybe I didn’t hate summer any more.
I remembered all of the Only Summer things, the Farmer’s Market on Sunday morning, bags full of vegetable love in the form of tiny Patty Pan squash, gritty zucchini, scallions with shining white bulbs, garlic scapes, baby eggplants, tiny and fiery Hmong peppers, and the tomatoes, oh Lord the tomatoes in their juicy, flashy glory. The fruit, too, cantaloupes, Honeydew, watermelons, and berries, nothing in a plastic box from California, strawberries that have a smell and can make strong men tremble as they offer up their sweet/tart essence. I think about cooking in my summer kitchen, window open, Janis and Jami through the speakers, a little buzzed, very happy, asking the world to “take another little piece of my heart, now baby” as I bless fresh mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes with a chiffonadeof basil and a drizzle of olive oil. I wonder why I love cooking most in summer, it seems backwards, I should cherish the heat and coziness when it’s cold outside but the truth, the truth is that I am happiest cooking the crispest, juiciest, most potent version of everything under the sun, in my flip flops, when the sun is heading out for the evening.
It’s not really summer; this was just a preview. Tomorrow it will cool down again, for a while, but it’s coming, another summer, in all it’s ripe and languid glory. Maybe this year, I’ll surrender, balance the discomfort of sweat against the ecstasy of a cool shower, and the mosquito bites against the thrill of sitting on the porch waiting for a thunderstorm to break the tension in the air. I think I’m going to like it, this time.