Sights, sounds of summer are colorful, frustrating, and hilarious

Categorized as 07/20/09 Goshen News column

“North, south, east, and west. Summer is the season I like the best.”

Okay. So that little ditty is true right now as the breeze teases the leaves overhead. But just you wait until the heat and humidity descend, causing the nylons to stick in a permanent twist that no amount of gyrations can correct. It’s then that I’m ready to swear on a stack of hymnals that winter is the best and fa-la-la and where is Santa, anyway?

However, having only recently defrosted from the brutal winter that gripped the Midwest, a vote for summer with my two faintly suntanned arms seems perfectly reasonable. After all, there are only two colors in winter’s palette – white and dirty, and that gets old in a hurry.

After months of that, the sights and sounds of summer are a virtual feast for the senses. The world outside my back door is green. There is glorious color everywhere, from the riotous pinks, purples, and reds along the front porch and chicken coop to the orderly tangle of color in a yard I ran past just this morning.

In the garden, the vegetables are growing at a pace with bushy squash plants, leafy tomatoes, and the waxy sheen of the jalapenos. There are dark green zucchini growing next to bright yellow crook-neck squash, and small, green tomatoes have begun to appear.

There is one other color I’ve been seeing too much of, though, and that is mud brown. It comes into the house in the form of real estate, and it is tracked through my back room by 8 feet of various sizes. The kitchen floor reveals twice the normal amount of dirt, and only moments ago one of the boys ambled past with a significant portion of the garden ground into the hem of his shorts.

Don’t ask me. I just work here.

There are plenty of other summer sights that do make me happy. For instance, the Coleman tent has made its annual summer-long appearance. Presently, it is parked beneath the spreading maple right next to the swing set. In a week or so, the head groundskeeper will call for it to be moved because the sight of tent-shaped patches of dead grass do not make him happy.

Seeing the trampoline positioned in the shade of the same maple makes me happy, too, because it reminds me of the many hours that our bouncing legs spend there. Far above it, I spot the branch that a certain young daredevil was caught leaping from in what appeared to his mother to be a 20-story freefall. In a maternal panic, I issued a restraining order, completely spoiling his fun and saving his neck. If that makes me a fun hater, so be it.

Not only are the colors of summer rich and vivid, but so are it’s flavors. We’ve had 2 fresh strawberry pies so far and 1 raspberry cream pie with fresh berries from Grandma’s patch. Soon we will enjoy sautéed squash fresh from the garden. Later, there will be juicy tomatoes and jalapenos to can. There’s nothing like having first your mouth and then your scalp bursting into flames from a truly hot pepper to spark some action around the table.

The sour taste of summer can spark action as well. I don’t know what possessed Mr. Schrock’s children recently, but they decided that freezing vinegar into ice cubes would be an interesting experiment.

Oh, it was interesting, alright, if watching your mother’s face turn inside out is interesting. Funny how they were suddenly “interested” in disappearing when their father glared at them and began moving purposefully in their direction.

Besides the sound of their retreating feet, there are other noises of summer that are music to my ears. Right now, the birds are singing and chirping as the sun rises. At night, there’s the snap and crackle of the fire with the croaking of the frogs in the neighbors’ pond as a soothing backdrop to fireside conversations.

There are, however, other summer sounds that range from suspicious to frustrating to downright hilarious. For instance, when I hear a chip bag rustle from my office upstairs, I get suspicious. Apparently our newest hire, a Doberman, has abandoned his post. I move to intervene.

And just yesterday, I overheard this snippet of a conversation from down below.

“Give me that!”

“I can’t. I have rigor mortis.”

Now, that’s hilarious. Later in the afternoon, however, when I heard a ruckus downstairs, it wasn’t so funny. Upon investigating, one of them had locked his brother out for a “perfectly good reason.” Then he made the mistake of opening the window about three inches to hand out a banana. (To sustain the exile in his isolation? To rub in his exclusive access to the larder? The motive is unclear.)

Seeing his opportunity, the outcast grabbed the proffered arm and began a tug of war. In his deposition, he stated that, “I was just using his arms as collateral.”

If I were smart, I would resign here and now. I would draw up papers awarding their father full custody. Then, I would show them another summer sound – the sound of my engine gunning it for the state line.

I guess I’ll hold off on that for now. Maybe next summer.

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