We are in the midst of a heat wave. It’s not unusual for where I live at this time of year; the Okanagan is the northernmost tip of the Sonoran desert that runs through much of North America. It is a summer vacation destination, so many people are on holiday and don’t worry too much about being hot. For those of us working though, it’s tricky when the outdoor temperature is at or above body temperature. I bet you really could fry an egg.
Thankfully we have Okanagan Lake and a few other lakes along the length of the valley. They allow for moderate temperatures much of the year, but there is always a week or so that makes the mercury boil. I work mostly outside in the summer, long hours, but I vow not to complain because I am someone who dislikes cold much more than heat. I am thankful I don’t work in the snow and ice, and I am in a happy environment sharing in people’s celebrations. It could be worse. If sweating a little (okay, some days more than a little) is the price I pay, so be it.
It is especially delicious when we get to cool off. Some days we get down to the lake with the dogs and all of us go for a swim. Other days, it’s a soak in the tub, maybe even with a cocktail if we finish work early enough. At the very least, we can wander down the road for an ice cream cone at our local favourite, Paynter’s Fruit Market.
When I was a kid, it was easy to beat the heat. You gathered a few friends and someone turned on the sprinkler. Ta da! Instant fun. Or you listened for the ice cream truck – it was bound to come by sooner or later. Then you could critique your friends’ choices (“ice cream sandwiches are better than fudgsicles, for sure!”), and decided whose tongue turned the best colour.
I don’t hear an ice cream truck anymore, and kids seem to play at municipal water parks instead of in back yards. As long as they find some way to have honest-to-goodness fun, what does it matter? A little bit of creativity is all it takes.
I am reminded of a podcast I heard one hot summer day years ago, by the late great Stuart McLean. It made me think of a summer with my cousins when we had an epic water fight. In case you are in need of inspiration on a hot summer day, here it is:
With that said, I am going to close now, and see if perhaps the dogs want to frolic a bit in the shade with the hose. The sweat is dripping down my nose as I write this, sitting even in the shade…
With the May long weekend just past, the “outdoor season” has begun. That means dinners on the deck and drinks on the lawn and hanging out in the sun. I enjoy time outside in my garden too, putzing away at picking veggies, weeding to keep things tidy and generally being at one with Nature. Sometimes it can be a bit much though… I don’t have many lazy days outdoors, but that is my own fault.
My most daunting task at Rabbit Hollow is to pull weeds – it seems every year we have a new species that wishes to be counted in the general population. I was perhaps over-exhuberant when we had a friendly neighbour turn over a section of the front yard, as it is a patch twice the size of our kitchen and with spring rain the weeds take firm hold. I exhausted any frustration I had about life in my hoeing and pulling of weeds. Then my sense of accomplishment was fulfilled as I planted row upon row of my wacky vegetables. By the end I had sprouting purple carrots, bull’s blood beets, rebel radishes and arugula all ready to reach for the sun. I flopped down on the grass very proud of my efforts, but longing for the days when they didn’t wear me out so much. This was, I remembered, only the first item on my full page to-do list.
After a few minutes respite, it was back to work so I pulled out the weed eater and tackled the two-foot high crab grass beside the garage. As the freshly cut bits of grass stuck to my legs and I smelled that aroma of dirt and grass, memories came flooding back to me as I walked along of childhood summers doing the garden chores. Ah, the peace of the days when having green feet and a tank top tan were the worst of your worries!
The next task was to mow the lawn, so I braved the ridicule of the neighbour across the road who has the deluxe riding mower complete with cup holders, and pulled out the extension cord to hook up our much more green electric model. I walked the yard enjoying the fresh air and seeing those newly cut rows of grass and then my wistful experience truly reached its pinnacle when just as I came to the end of the yard I heard that familiar sound of bygone days. I thought perhaps it was my imagination but no, sure enough a moment later the ice cream truck came toddling down the road with its carnival music blaring for all to hear. I was indeed thankful for another worthy break 🙂
There is something pastoral about a quiet day in the sun with Mother Nature and her creatures. I sat on the grass and slurped my popsicle, and soaked in every aspect of the moment. It does my soul good to watch Simon and Ella wrestle till they drop in the just-mowed grass, and to hear the birds chirp as they chase each other over the lilac trees. I am very grateful that we have a little corner all our own, and I much prefer those noises to the hustle and bustle of the city. For you city slickers, maybe a pot on the patio is enough to fulfill your gardening curiosity, and a visit to the farmers’ market in support of local growers is more your kind of thing. Ultimately, I think the secret lies in finding your own peace, a place where the world stops still for you so that you can just breathe it in and smile.