10 July 2006

Five Villages

[in keeping with my recent tribute to SUMMER, i offer a photo blog of our three days spent in Cinque Terre on the coast of Italy. it was early-May when we were there, but it's the kind of place that feels like a perfect slice of breathtaking summer any time of year...]

{click photo to enlarge}

06 July 2006

"Trees on a Plane"

I’m at Frothy Monkey today, watching out the window as an American flag whips in the breeze and people sit on the patio slurping drinks with ice. I am secretly hoping that Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban (fresh off their honeymoon) will stroll in so I can congratulate them. They’ve been seen around town lately, at the park, at Starbucks, and various other places where regular people go. With my left ear I am listening to Patty Griffin’s “Long Ride Home” muffled under the whir of the espresso machine. With the other ear, I am on alert for an Aussie accent.

As I sit in this corner booth chewing on my straw, my husband is in the process of smuggling baby trees back from Montana in his carry-on luggage. He has been there for a week playing at a camp in the mountains and came across some spruce or cedar saplings that mentioned they had always hoped to visit Nashville. So I guess when no one was looking, he sneaked into a patch of woods, dug their roots from the Montana soil, and nestled them between his toiletry bag and boxer shorts for the journey to our backyard.

One of my favorite things about Jeremy is that whenever he finds a new interest, he jumps in whole-heartedly. Lately, he is really excited about trees and shrubs. Before he left for Montana, he built a new patio with help from a few friends and an odd stranger or two. After days of slaving in the sweltering heat and consuming ninety-five gallons of Gatorade, it was finished. We had it trimmed with a bunch of interesting trees and plants that we spend a lot of time over-watering. It feels good to be outside now that we have a place to stand.

While summer has never really been my favorite season, I do love it for the "corn-on-the-cob, outdoor grilling, gathering with friends, and letting cold water from the hose splash onto your feet" that it brings. It’s the only time of year that I really enjoy Mexican food (the readers gasp), and the only time of year that watermelon seems truly important. It’s also the only time of year when I don’t feel redundant wearing flip-flops every day, and the only time of year that I miss being a kid--if only for the waterslide parks, and hot dogs by the pool at our neighborhood clubhouse. I remember the summer my friend Robin tried to convince me that french fries tasted better dipped in mayonnaise (they don’t), the one and only summer I got up on water skis, and all the summers I spent in California visiting my cousins on their ranch.

The ice cream truck goes past our house a lot these days, whistling its rendition of “London Bridge Is Falling Down,” and every so often I feel tempted to snatch some quarters from Jeremy’s dresser and run out to the curb for an orange sherbet push-up with Fred Flintstone on the wrapper, or an Eskimo pie.

I miss my dad a lot this summer, as I watch Jeremy flip charred chicken on our grill with the same red metal lid that my dad’s grill had my whole entire life. My dad loved to grill steaks and spend long hot Saturdays working in his rose garden, wearing tennis shorts and blue-banded socks pulled straight up toward his knees. The flower beds never seemed bothered by his lack of fashion.

Jeremy has already promised that in some summer down the road to come, he’ll take our little kid fishing, or maybe to the park for a push on the swings, and tell them all about their grandfather so it will be as if they know him well.