It was the hottest summer on record, and it is not exiting gracefully, or nearly fast enough for me. Petulant Hurricane Idalia has just swept through our neighborhood, bringing rain and downing some branches, but finally the hydrangeas feel relief after the parched arid summer month. The tomatoes haven’t fared as well. They’ve tumbled over, and the last few green tomatoes have nose-dived into the dirt of the raised bed. I am tempted to just walk away, and yearn to revel in crisp autumn weather and some crisp apple strudel. It is time for summer’s last hurrah.
Labor Day is a good time to get all of our summer ya-yas out. Let’s take one last trip to the beach, or the neighborhood pool. Let’s finally see Barbenheimer and sit in the dark, frigid air conditioning and eat greasy pawfuls of delicious popcorn. We haven’t cooked nearly enough hot dogs on the grill. We never spiked a watermelon. The Dairy Queen is about to close for the season – we should go get a Blizzard. We missed lying out on the back lawn watching the Perseid meteor showers this year, so thank goodness for the big Blue Moon this week. I did see it one night – before Hurricane Idalia blew into town.
Now that COVID is almost behind us we can see some old friends. Carefully. Let’s have folks over for an impromptu crab feast this weekend. I am like Jamie Kirkpatrick, from Chestertown, and I would rather bring my own poultry entrée to the event, although I tend toward a Stouffer’s Chicken Pot Pie, compared to Jamie’s gourmet treat of Royal Farms chicken, than spend hours picking and hammering away at crabs, but I do enjoy the spectacle. I love watching everyone pounding away on the steamed crabs with wooden mallets, drinking beer, licking Old Bay seasoning and crab bits from their fingers, gnawing on corn, elbowing each other for more room around the newspaper-covered picnic table. Luke the wonder dog wanders around, nosing for a surreptitious handout. Hope springs eternal in an old dog.
When I was a student at Washington College, in those bright and shiny days, we started every new school year off with huge, communal crab feast. We sat outside, under the big trees, happy to see each other again. This was back in the golden era when we were legally of age to drink beer. And yes, we did. The college sponsored a welcoming beer wagon for the incoming and returning students. No wonder we were so happy. My mother looked askance. I am sure it is a much healthier environment now for the students, with their abstemious and vegan ways. But I don’t think Pilates can be half as much fun as a crab feast with friends.
But here, in the grown-up times, without a cohort of Eastern Shore pals close by, we will have an end-of-summer feast of our own. We need to be sure that at least once this summer we ate coleslaw, potato salad, grilled sausage, strawberry shortcake, and shelled some peas out on the back steps. We haven’t made any ice cream! How about you? Did you grill enough hamburgers? How about corn on the cob? There is nothing like melting your fingerprints on a steaming-hot ear of corn, with a glossy trail of butter cascading down your chin. It is a feeling that you won’t ever enjoy in the delightfully cool autumn. It would just ruin your sweater.
I’m looking ahead to fall. I’ve already ordered next spring’s daffodil and crocus bulbs. I’m going to start some pansy seeds this weekend, too. I am already thinking about how the window boxes are going to look this winter. Last night, while the rain from Hurricane Idalia pelted the roof, Mr. Sanders tried his hand at making macaroni and cheese from scratch. Not from a box, with powdered cheese, which was another of my Washington College staples, but with Gruyère and sharp cheddar cheeses, with a white sauce and fresh bread crumbs. And we thought it would make a fine side dish to have with pulled pork for Christmas dinner. Because you know that Christmas is just around the corner.
Have an excellent Labor Day weekend. I hope it cools off soon.
“The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last for ever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.”
― E.B. White