Sunday, May 18, 2008


I know the solstice isn't here yet—must wait for June 20 for that—but it has always made more sense to me to follow the cross-quarter days as season starters. Which means summer began May 1, will hit its height on the solstice (Midsummers Day), then gradually taper off till the first day of autumn (Lammas, around Aug. 1). Old Norse and Celtic agrarian, pagan roots here, which early Christian bishops worked hard at converting, by decree, into Christian celebrations. Wasn't that difficult to swap polytheism for the Trinity, a local fertility goddess for the Virgin Mary, the phallic tree for the wood of the Cross. Whatever. The truth is down there at the bottom of everything, composting for millennia, nourishing belief and faith and myth and hope, whatever form they take.

Solstices and cross-quarter days aside, here is how I know summer is imminent.
  • The butter tray, out on the kitchen counter, liquifies for the first time in 8 months. Time to store it in the fridge.
  • Garden hoses come out. Especially the one I snake around the perimeter of the backyard, that feeds the soaker hose for the raspberry row.
  • The solid brass 4-hose adapter gets screwed on to our (only) backyard spigot.
  • Vegetables (seedlings, at this point) and shrubs get assigned a watering cycle.
  • Lawn is mowed weekly, ought to be mowed twice weekly. (This is actually a springtime thing, not summer. In full-on summer, mowing like crazy becomes watering like crazy, that is if we want a green lawn.)
  • I begin scouting the neighborhood for free firewood for next winter.
  • Nighttime routine shifts from closing up the house, to opening it up: what exterior doors have lockable screens, we leave open all night.
  • Ceiling fans get turned on to a slow lazy speed, and stay on mostly from now till September.
  • Cruiser's white coat turns gray, and needs brushing before letting the beast—filthy from rolling ecstatically in the carport's dust—into the house. (To his credit, Cruzinski has learned how to Assume The Position for optimal brushing: rear feet on the grill's side counter, front feet up on the grill cover, so I can brush him down.)
  • Fireplace given an almost-final cleaning (although modest fires will still be needed to take out the morning or evening chill between now and July 1—on which date the hearth is given a terminal cleaning, and candles are arranged in it).
  • "Our" bats are looked for every evening at twilight. (A record five of them were seen a couple nights ago. Mama and litter?....)
So what are your rituals of approaching summer?


At 9:27 PM, Blogger Jenni said...

I know it's summer when I start freezing to death at my mom's house. She has air conditioning, and I swear she sets the thermostat for 10 degrees colder in the warm weather. I come over in shorts and a tank top, and end up sitting on the couch huddled under an afghan. Ah, summer!

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Elisa McLaughlin said...

I figured I better leave a comment so it didn't say "1 comments" at the bottom of your post. Ha! Corin celebrated the coming of summer last night. As the moon set (3:30am) Corin began to frolic in his bed and sing (squawk) , into the warm night, of the glory of summer. His wild dancing continued until I finally got up at 5:15 am to feed him (ahh sweet blissful silence!). After that he went to sleep, thank goodness...I hope he isn't starting a ritual!


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