Though I love the holiday season with all its glitz and glam, it is the warm season I long for, with its relaxing vibes. I like to say eighty-two degrees with a breeze is my ideal. I spend at least three hours a day outside during the summer. If I could, I would live in a bikini, cover-up, and flip-flops year round, with my hair thrown up into a messy bun (the other kind makes me look bald). I like not having to warm up the car, or bundle up before going outside, or having to worry about blow-drying my hair after a shower. Summer is low-maintenance.
I guess you could say I have spring break fever. I spent the late afternoon sunbathing on a sand-colored fleece blanket on our weedy grass, my neighbor playing “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack on the radio. The late afternoon sun waned as I waxed philosophical, thinking about life’s unanswered questions (like “What exactly is a peanut-butter haircut?” and “If the whole world was naked, would we be skinnier?”), while my three-year-old daughter fed sticks and leaves to the A/C fan unit. It was the ultimate relaxation, saturated with sunshine that turned my creamy skin into brown butter.
So often, I’m doing, and I forget to just be. I didn’t even bring a book to the blanket. I don’t need constant stimulation. I was letting myself have some quiet time and my daughter, some unstructured play. I delight in the way she loves the outdoors, though she still turns into a glassy-eyed zombie with a hearing problem when she plays with our old cell phones.
I suppose that’s why I love the warm so much, because when it’s cold, I don’t spend any more time outside than I have to. Even bundled up, it’s not comfortable to be wearing so many layers, and fun in the water is out of the question. I love the season of chocolate bars melting before you get to the car, of ceiling fans cutting through our thick, humid air, and stroller walks at twilight, the smell of meat grilling on the back porch. As I walk through our neighborhood and pass each house with a lighted window, I think of them as their own separate universes–our neighborhood a solar system. It’s like walking in space.
While I walk (today, it was while I sprawled), I thought about a butterscotch milkshake I had once. It was at Spencer’s Drive-In in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, but the place is just a memory now.
When my daughter and I went back inside, I take a cooler shower than usual. When I dry off, the smell of bleach from my white towel makes my nostrils smart. (Bleaching whites are part of my spring cleaning routine.) My face feels deliciously tight, and I am ready to make my kitchen cabinet casserole (what I call spring cleaning the fridge) while my daughter, freshly-bathed and smelling of lavender and innocence, jumps on my grandmother’s love seat with the cushions out.
All is calm, all is right, until she sneezes, and I am running from the next room, scrambling around to find a wipe while begging her not to touch “it.”