Friday, June 24, 2011

Recipe for Summer

The Solstice came and went announcing “Summer.” But true summer is a state of the soul, not accessible by calendar alone. How to arrive there? Try this recipe:

Change your answering machine to “Gone fishing,” throw the necessities, three novels, a book of poems and an old guitar into the car and start driving. Curse at the snarl of traffic from San Francisco to Sacramento and feel the first burst of release ascending into the pine-smell of the Sierras. Lose yourself in the Nevada sky and feel properly humbled by the purple-mountained-majesty of the Tetons. Note the change to the rolling hills and fruited plains of South Dakota. Set cruise control to 75 and sing along with each of the top 30 hits of June,1965—Catch the Wind (Donovan), Theme from a Summer Place (The Letterman), Sugar Pie Honey Bunch (Four Tops), Satisfaction (Rolling Stones), Mr. Tambouine Man (The Byrds). Feel the years peel away and remember that bright-eyed-bushy-tailed-innocence of a life yet-lived before you. Eat crackers and cheese at a picnic table rest stop by a grove of aspen trees. Breathe the silence and let another veil of busyness drop. Keep moving, now to the more intimate greens of Minnesota and Wisconsin with red barns contrast. Flop yourself down on the motel bed and stumble into an old Hitchcock movie on TV. Keep driving, now alongside the big trucks and lower speed limits and back into the swirl of Chicago-suburb traffic, the population having quintupled in the last two states. Spend the night at a friend’s suburban house with summer snow on the lawn from the neighbor’s cottonwood tree and remember the American paradise promised by “Leave It to Beaver”— the tree-lined streets, big-fielded elementary school, cozy downtown public-library, nearby Lake Michigan beach, large front lawns and everyone out walking their dogs while fireflies blink in the night. Pull into the Ann Arbor Holiday Inn to return the car 3,000 miles later and get a Turkish lemonade at a buzzing downtown café. Wake up the next morning straight into the arms of birdsong—summer has arrived.

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