O Lord, nothing looked deader than the brown, shriveled seeds I planted last spring. But You breathed Your life into them, and now, a hundred colorful reminders of Your Resurrection dance for joy in the west wind. OMG, to think that You can do the same for us, if we let You. Alleluia!
On sultry summer days, do you sit on the porch — more likely, bask in air-conditioning — and ponder profound issues?
Skeptics might claim we’re procrastinating. We don’t want to mow or weed the garden for the 500th time. Or battle Japanese beetles that may as well own deeds to our rose beds.
No, I truly look for answers to my questions, including:
- Unlike highway medians, why can’t our yards and gardens be declared prairie preservation areas?
- Why would anyone invent platform flip-flops? A friend asks this question daily, as falling off her fashionable footwear put her in a walking boot.
- My question: why would anyone buy them?
- When temperatures sizzle, are you tempted to splat and zoom on a Slip ’N Slide®? (Me, neither.)
- Do others feel embarrassed — and relieved — that their campers include air conditioners?
- Why do summer mornings smell better every year?
- Why do beach lovers strip down to strings — some wore pandemic masks bigger than their bathing suits — yet other bathers don more clothing than in January?
- Why would anybody believe romaine should be grilled?
- What summer food sometimes outranks (gasp!) ice cream? Though a lifetime addict, I believe on the hottest days, a chilled watermelon slice tastes even better. Besides, I can spit seeds at my spouse.
- Why does my three-year-old grandson’s face, smeared with blueberries, appear adorable when my own toddlers’ gooey, blue kisses sent me running for my life — and a washcloth?
- Tarry blacktop conjures teeth-gritting images of road construction. Endless balky traffic. Detours to Timbuktu. But does its fragrance generate positive memories for anyone else? Sweaty bike rides on country roads to a mom-and-pop store to buy icy, 10-cent bottles of cream soda? Or yakety cycling with teen friends to a bookmobile?
- People are named June and August, but who’s named July?
- Why do some summer outdoor wedding guests look ready for a Hollywood photo shoot, whereas other perspiring attendees — not me, you understand — look like they spent the afternoon in a dunk tank?
- Which is best: lightning bugs, glowworms, or fireflies?
- Why does the ice maker malfunction only when temperatures rise above 90?
- Ditto for air conditioners. And freezers.
- Which songs are hummed most during summer: Beach Boys’ hits? The ’50s classic, “A Summer Place”? Or “Summer Nights” from the musical, Grease?
- While riding in the back of a pickup at 65 mph doesn’t carry its former appeal, do we children of yesteryear miss those wild, warm, nighttime breezes, the lavish, starry show above?
- Thankfully, we don’t miss out on summer evening scents. Don’t they smell better every year?
Especially when neighbors mow grass. And nurture beautiful flowers.
All while I ponder these profound questions of summer.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What weighty quandaries fill your mind during summer?
“Rain, rain, go away. Come again some other day!”
Some preschoolers let weather spoil play-outside plans. But one warm, rainy spring day 60 years ago, my brother Ned and I begged to play outdoors. Mom, seeing no lightning — and desperate for peace — dressed us in bathing suits she’d sewed. Mine was the most beautiful suit in the world, with ruffles on the rear.
At the neighboring playground, we danced through God’s sprinkler system. Ned and I soared on swings, welcoming rain’s laughing pitter-patter. We experienced the joy of mud, chocolate-brownie-batter stuff we smeared on the merry-go-round and watched the rain scrub clean. We worried less about our own state. Mom almost locked us out.
Later, having sworn off mud baths, I still loved awakening to rain rhythms plunking on the roof. I sometimes avoided sibling anarchy with an early morning walk in the rain. At 10, I didn’t run outside in a homemade bathing suit with a ruffled butt. Instead, I ducked raindrops until I found an umbrella under the swing set, where my brothers had conducted parachute jumps.
I strolled along wet, black roads where iridescent oil jewels gleamed. Silence ruled the slumbering village’s lush lawns and rainbow flowers. I breathed newly washed air and listened to raindrops skittering across my umbrella. Sometimes I talked to God. Sometimes neither of us said anything. I counted it a major triumph to return before my family awoke. We had managed this secret rendezvous, the rain and I.
During young adulthood, love often turns to hate. I attended a college under a huge rain cloud with a permanent “on” switch. I spent a bundle on umbrellas because dastardly thieves stole the hundred I forgot in cafeterias.
Noah floods with 30,000 gloomy students wielding 30,000 umbrellas didn’t charm me like my childhood walks. Elevators, where we absorbed each other’s wet-dog fragrances, became danger zones. When the film, Singin’ in the Rain, was shown on campus, the student body flew to California and staged a sit-in at Gene Kelly’s house.
Now an (ahem!) mature adult, I’ve shed youthful habits. I don’t lose umbrellas in cafeterias because I am the cafeteria. Loading groceries into my car amid a deluge, I gnash my teeth and weep.
Yet even on this dreary April day, rain calls to me.
I probably won’t play in the mud. Nor will I wear a bathing suit with ruffles on the rear. But before the nearby school erupts at three, I grab my umbrella.
I know where deep puddles hide. Where wet tulips and daffodils will listen to quiet, spring songs in silence.
I know the perfect route for my rendezvous with the rain.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you love a rainy day?
O Lord, my narrow-minded calendar declares Easter is over and done. But OMG, for days afterward, the springtime world will shout out Your Resurrection! Alleluia!
OMG, Thank You for my baby crocuses. Though tiny and socially distanced, they cannot help but sing You a colorful hallelujah chorus!
O Lord, thank You for zinnias, which I plant every year because they add flower fireworks to my yard; rarely have to be fed or watered; and finally, OMG, thank You for making them tall enough to hide my almost-September garden from the neighbors.
O Lord, some estimate You designed millions of different kinds of flowers growing on our planet. Whoa, how did You think up such diversity? Though I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me — because OMG, You’ve custom-designed every single one of billions of people.
it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun.”
Decades ago, a science book convinced my brother Ned the sun was a star.
I scoffed. How could the big, round, yellow sun and white, diamond-chip stars be one and the same? Anybody with a brain could tell the difference.
Besides, had anybody ever suffered from star burn? Huh? Huh?
Eventually, my teachers forced me to admit Ned was right. However, this April, I find myself playing cynic again. Despite Indiana’s strong evidence to the contrary, scientists insist the sun is still there.
Whether you believe the scientific or my sensible view, one important expectation remains: with May’s imminent arrival, here comes the sun! Let sun rituals begin!
North American ceremonials are less all-encompassing than ancient Aztecs’. They believed they perpetuated the sun by sacrificing human hearts. But we do follow the sun’s dictates year after year — despite protests from dermatologists, who prefer we live in subterranean caves.
Nope. No ritual is more sacred than sunbathing. Women will pay big bucks for the smallest amount of fabric they’ll wear all year, then don cover-ups and hats. When quarantine’s over, we hope to set up beach umbrellas and tents. We’ll slather ourselves and our kids with gallons of sunblock. A fog of its fragrance, similar to fall’s smoke from burning leaves, will fill the land. All to protect ourselves, at any cost, from the sun, for which we have yearned the past six months.
However, that’s not the only odd chemistry set in motion by the sun’s advent.
Grill addicts will barbecue every meal outside, including romaine (which is wrong on so many levels). Picnics will dot the land. Despite sun worship, everyone calls dibs on shady spots.
All part of the love-hate rituals we keep religiously with the sun’s advent.
We also up our junk food consumption to proper warm-weather levels. Dieticians, citing the availability of fresh produce, delude themselves that we will eat healthy.
Seriously? In six decades, I have yet to encounter a single concession stand that sells carrot sticks. Unless they’re deep-fried. And dipped in chocolate.
Unfortunately, when the sun gleams through dirty windows, we sense a moral obligation to wash them. Our cars, too, as the slush excuse won’t work anymore.
We also fertilize grass we don’t like to mow and bushes we hate to trim as well as plant flowers we hate to weed.
Amazingly, we don’t avoid these rituals. On a lovely spring day, we may even embrace them, because here comes the sun, ready or not!
I think we’re ready.
Even if we get star burn.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite sunny pastime?
OMG, please make me like my daffodil — determined to bloom and brighten, no matter what crazy winds blow!
O Lord, Your flowers are a mystery. I pamper them — they die. I’ve never, ever planted white petunias — yet they pop up and bloom. In October. On my porch, without a pot! OMG, teach me to welcome beauty into my life, even when it wasn’t invited.