I don’t like watermelon. There, I said it. It just doesn’t float my boat or tickle my fancy or wiggle my pickle or perform any of those other euphemisms that make one fall in love with something. I announced this today in front of a few acquaintances while we were discussing summer fruits and I got the same reaction I always get. Wide-eyed gasps while one person exclaims in a high-pitched astonished voice, “Whaaat??? You don’t like waaatermelon?” Honestly, I don’t understand why everyone loves it so much and the only responses I seem to get are, “but it’s sooo goood!” (Somehow the discussion of watermelon seems to cause people to drag out their vowels in a failed attempt at speaking in a charming southern drawl.)
Father’s Day is tomorrow and what dad doesn’t like a good juicy burger… Well, mine perhaps. My father is not your average garden-variety dad who enjoys spending his day with a beer and a burger watching football or baseball or whatever other sport is plastering itself all over the boob tube. That’s not to say he wouldn’t enjoy a good burger now and then or watch the Super Bowl; it’s just not what he lives for. My father is a bit of a contradiction of himself from time to time. He loves the outdoors – fishing, hunting, gardening – but he also loves traveling abroad, exploring other cultures and enjoys a good bottle of Pinot Noir. He can discuss the finer points of the law and politics in one breath and “shoot the shit” in the next. He is wise and yet naïve at times and he’s not afraid to admit when he’s wrong.
I love and admire my father for all of these qualities. What I admire most about him, however, is that in his 80 years on this earth he has never stopped learning and never stopped trying to learn. It is often said that once you learn something you realize how much more you have to learn and I truly believe this. My father has lived up to this motto and that makes him a great man.
Summer berries are on the prowl and I can’t get enough of them. My father has raspberry bushes back in Indiana and I remember picking them as a child. My mother would make (and still does make) the most wonderful raspberry freezer jam from those fresh-picked berries and as a child I would pick the berries for her. Careful not to smoosh the delicate flesh with my clumsy fingers, I would put one in the tiny bucket and then one to my lips. The juicy sweet tartness of the berry was one of my most favorite tastes on earth. I felt as if the whole world melted around that berry and I could spend all day basking in its delight.
To this day I have not tasted another raspberry as good as those from my father’s garden. I suspect I never will. That does not mean I don’t still revel in gorging myself on them when they are in season!
Ahh, summer. How I love you. You are so full of smiles, laughter and the feeling of freedom. Although it may not officially be summer yet, I’m definitely feeling it. Everyone’s outside, wearing shorts and sundresses and going to the beach on the weekend. The sun is shining, the bees are humming and the smell of grilled meat is wafting through my neighborhood. Oh that unctuous primal aroma. I wish I could bottle it up and save it for gloomy winter nights when I long for carefree summer days.
I have fond memories of family cook outs growing up in Indiana. It seems summer was the only time everyone made efforts to get together on occasions that didn’t include birthdays and holidays. And, of course, that was because of all the wonderful food! Who wouldn’t want to gather all the kids and toss them in the pool or run them through the sprinklers while you have nice juicy burgers and chicken charring up on the grill and cool crisp summer salads brightening up your plate? The grill was reserved for these gatherings in summer, but I say why wait? Let’s savor the warm summer nights and grill as much as possible. Besides, it won’t be long before school bells ring again and the weather goes dark on us.
Every spring here in Southern California I find myself weirdly eyeing the stands at the farmer’s market for that first glimpse of bright red flesh. The first week I see them I start counting the days/weeks and making plans. I don’t buy the first strawberries that come to light – I just don’t think they are quite ready. I wait two weeks and then start tasting. I taste a strawberry from every farmer waiting to savor that bright tart juicy sweetness. The day I find it I start scooping them up a tray at a time. 90% of the country’s strawberry production is grown in California so it’s great to be right next to the source!
When strawberries are at their peak, it’s hard to do anything with them other than eat them in their whole form, red nectar running down your chin and making that “mmmm” noise under your breath. However I do need to venture away from time to time and explore all the versatility the gorgeous strawberry has to offer. Since I didn’t want to take away from the loveliness I kept it simple which means you won’t have to work hard for this deliciousness.
I often have some serious problems with motivation. (duh, Barbara, where have you been the past few months?) I get all caught up in my head and start tripping myself up on the imperfections, the ideals and how to meet my own (high) expectations. I get so into this mode of thinking, theorizing and pontificating that I’m exhausted by the time it comes to actually doing. I have a horrible case of perfectionism together with throw-in-the-towel-ism if it’s not perfect. These are negative traits but they are part of me and something I need to deal with. Not deal with in terms of “oh well, that’s who I am so too bad.” To me that’s not dealing with anything but rather making an excuse for your negative attributes. I believe dealing with them takes effort to work around them and turn them into something positive.
This year has been a big and very busy year for me so far. M and I got married (yippee!!!) and not too soon before that I made a difficult decision to quit my job. I know that sounds extreme, especially in this economy, but it was draining me emotionally and I decided I just couldn’t live that way. I don’t have a price for my happiness. (More on that later.) What culminated from all of this was me being seriously off track with my goals and seriously lacking in motivation. It kind of reminded of me of falling off the dieting bandwagon. As many of you can relate, when you fall off, it’s hard to get right back on. Most of us (including myself) give up and stay content to follow along behind, all the while punishing ourselves for falling off in the first place. It’s a difficult place to be in and very difficult to pull yourself out of.