Indian summer: a period of unusually dry, warm weather occurring in late autumn.

picmonkey-collageMy students were a bit alarmed when I mentioned what a glorious Indian summer we were having this September. Yes, alarmed. They were concerned I was using a derogatory term. Perhaps they are right, but it was a term from my youth and I was only remarking on the extraordinary warm, gloriously warm, days we are experiencing. A glorious string of days that I am taking full advantage of by spending afternoons outdoors. As they sat in my classroom peering at the blue beyond the bank of windows I encouraged them to do the same once the last bell rings. Get out and breathe in the prana.

bike-collageHow many times have you stopped to say thank you to this spectacular earth? As I sailed along the smooth pavement and perfectly engineered bridges along the miles of bike path, I thought, how is this planet so so so so giving and available and wonderful and yet, still taken for granted? These days, these gifted days, are all opportunities to stop. Savor. Be appreciative.

food-collageFood too. Eat fresh and take advantage of seasonal delights. I carried two sweet lemons back from my last Los Angeles trip, plucked from my brother’s backyard trees, now squeezed over fresh eggs, local sausage and veggies, making for a fast and fabulous al fresco supper. A sweet lemon? Yes, there is a simplicity in such a miraculous delight.

Eat light. Eat local. Eat one ingredient foods. And bless your good fortune. Seriously great fortune if you eat half this deliciously.

swim-collageRaise your glass and salute this splendid planet we inhabit. And revel in all it offers. Air. Water. Soil. Do what you can to keep it spinning without your footprint slowing it. If you have the great fortune of reveling in such a spectacular Indian summer, why not enjoy it to the very last? Let that golden orb perform its magic over your mood. Watch it sink beyond the treetops and spill into violet and crimson and never forget you are among the lucky. Never. Do let me know what Autumn joys you experience! xxoo

baskets

I was thinking about what a devote Nine Cent Girl reader recently said to me, something like, I wish you were less of an English teacher. As he went on to explain, I think either he faulted or I stopped listening or we were both distracted, regardless, after reflection, I came to my own assumption that sometimes I need to rant more. Get a bit crazy. After Hillary’s “Basket of Deplorables” comment about the supporters of The Businessman I thought, what better time than this?

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Shifting into Routine

hay

School buses tie up the morning commute, meetings fill our afternoons, beach towels are folded into the back of the closet, as we all return to the hustle and bustle of routine. With the warm September temps here in New England, Autumn looms faintly, yet we must begin those chores that need to be completed before the first frost. And naturally, we begin to prepare our internal life too. Time to update your local yoga schedule. And go to a class. Install the Headspace app on your smart phone. And use it today. Plan your evening meal with convenience and health in mind. And eat well, quickly. Yes, it is September after all.

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memories make the memoir

Church was like my foot. It was always there and my mother made sure we were properly scrubbed up for the event. Nothing prevented our going. Even when my father announced that until the Catholics returned to Latin he would not attend mass, we did. Even when the entire hour became an uncomfortable ritual of handshakes and peace kisses, we went.

clouds Continue reading

Wait, what?

Why yes, it is true. Tonight, I’ve boarded a westward plane, headed to celebrate a monumental birthday with this good-looking guy. Over the weekend, there will be ocean swims, a few cocktails, several sensational sunsets, and plenty of dancing.

kyrie

Take time out to be with those you love.

That’s pretty much all we need to remember in life.

If we do, the sweet memories will carry us through all the rest.

XXOO

 

Memoir Continues

Sure many folks live in the same town as their grandparents and a parcel of aunts uncles and cousins, but we weren’t that family for my parents decided to cross both the Brooklyn and George Washington Bridge to raise us up in New Jersey. Sure, we made the journey back over those bridges, back to Flatbush, back to their old neighborhood on Christmas and Easter. But corralling us six wasn’t a spontaneous occurrence. It took the grandeur of a holiday to make it happen.

big house

Summer was a different story, however, for there was a history that went back generations, before even my parents, that anchored us to the north shore of Long Island, inside the gates of Belle Terre. My great-grandfather built his three story Victorian on a bluff overlooking the bay. From his vantage he could see all that came through the breakwaters, including his fleet of working tugs. His ten summered under this roof, and many made sure, once married, to continue the tradition by bringing their children there; and so it was for me summering there too. Sandy roads zigzagged between colossal homes each holding various generations of relatives, and children wandered with much freedom between them all.

The rocky beach was the constant. At any time of day, one could find a relative there to chat it up. My generation arrived into this well-established summer community without missing a beat. In my deepest memory I barely remember seeing an parent the whole of August as I ran about in that sanctuary. My mother was finally within walking distance of both her parents and her best friend and stole away with all the freedom we too enjoyed.

The two, Eileen McAllister and Barbara Rice, met while in elementary school in Brooklyn, and soon became fast friends. Friends who became related when Barbara married my mother’s cousin. Throughout my childhood, I knew she was my godmother, and my Aunt, but Barbara’s role as my mother’s best friend took precedence over any other. Those two would hide away in each others’ bedrooms, speaking their special invented language if we children drifted within earshot, and for the entirety of their years, this special relationship never altered. Children? Between the two they had 14: Barbara had 8, while my modern mother only 6. But the responsibilities we 14 brought into their lives never stopped them from laughing up a storm year after year. In my memory, the only time my mother did close her bedroom door was when Aunt Barbara arrived.

gate

And so we drifted from house to house, until we were summoned. Corrine wasn’t a fan of our August retreat. Not a fan of bugs or beaches or being removed from all her friends back in New Jersey, but she endured with a few rituals of her own.

One such ritual had become a practice, an event that we squealed for: to ride on top the big station wagon back from the strip of rocky Long Island Sound beach that held our August afternoons to the wooden cottage where she swore she saw the ghost of Mr. Crystal rock in the big pine rocker next to the fireplace.

Flying flat on the rooftop I lay pinned between the cool luggage rack metal and my second cousin once removed, who even more importantly than that, was my mother’s best friend’s daughter. From our youth we watched with envy our mother’s retreat behind closed doors, a flurry of secrets being shared, none of which we were privy to but we too bared our darkest corners till long after childhood ended. As Corrine drove the car tree branches whipped and tickled our arms and legs while the early evening air shot cool on our sunburned skin.

sound

The sandy windy roads were narrow and overgrown with lush vines twisted around the dense trees which we somehow memorized from our horizontal perspective and could calculate the precise location on our speeding wagon. Corrine was our ferry our shuttle our only retreat from walking as she piloted my mother’s station wagon back and forth between the wooden houses in this summer community filled with family at every turn. Days were spent making food for the galloping hordes while mothers laughed and fathers disappeared with golf clubs and children wandered along windy narrow tree lined sandy roads only called home by their own growling stomachs.

Sometimes we would wedge my sister between Lizzie and me to keep her from flying off the top of the wagon and into the thick growth that harbored ticks. We ran along those overgrown paths during the day on our way to the rocky beach, but ticks hid at the end of many a pointed finger and we were checked from head to toe before our evening baths. Our Yorkshire terrier, who ran always on our heels, seemed to attract more of those blood sucking bugs than we could keep track of, but our Corrine pulled them off like a skilled surgeon and while it was frightening to see the blown-up blood-filled bodies, it didn’t stop us from lying in the soft leafy beds deep in the dark undergrowth and along the sandy narrow paths we cut with our bare hands and constant wanderings.

ferry

Out of Office

This is our vacation out of office week. Everyone home. Eating. Laughing. Swimming. Drinking. Running. Loving. Together.

Lucky us, right?

water

These last weeks of summer, stop reading the hate tweets, stop scanning the headlines for the latest outrage, and stop worrying about the outcome next November. Instead, why not take a moment to see flowers, to hear joy, and to feel warmth? Be grateful. Remember you love life.

flowers

#summerwins

XXOO