THEY say there is comfort in familiar sounds.
If that is true, then the sudden whir of a lawnmower on a Sunday afternoon is comforting beyond words.
This morning, I recall getting up and thinking, why is it that no matter where you are, summer seems to stay the same, especially on a Sunday afternoon?
In Manila, I measured summer by the lazy haze of each day from March to May, when the heat can be oppressive especially when driving, the car seat scorching hot even as the a/c is blasting you with frigid air. Summer where we are is short, almost like an afterthought. There are days when it rains and hails, and then stops, the streets steaming with heat on contact from the sudden downpour.
We hardly have anything on our property except grass, a few tomato vines and a lone blueberry bush in our backyard. But I head out the kitchen door to snap a picture of my husband pushing the lawnmower around the backyard. I had barely sat again in front of the computer and he’s done cutting the grass, a hand wiping off the beads of sweat on his forehead.
“So soon?” I ask.
“Its hot out there,” he says.
I recall him shouting for me to join him and clear up the weeds out front, but I must have blocked it. I had already pulled out the weeds, cleared the overgrowth of some plants and poured generous fertilizer in the front yesterday, my duty done.
For a time last spring our thoughts turned to planting, so we bought Asian lilies, a few tomato plants, dill and lemon thyme herbs, cucumber and a blueberry bush.
I would have loved to plant more flowers, but I wanted perennials and plants that could feed us somehow, so the tomatoes and cucumbers and the herbs. There was a sale at Home Depot and my daughter wanted me to buy a full grown tree. We had looked at the trees and almost bought one, but I balked at it.
“Still too expensive,” I say. Soon afterwards, the young couple who just moved to the house behind us had several young trees delivered to their place, and I had a case of summer planting envy again. But once I closed the blinds I had completely forgotten about it.
In June the dandelions came out in vengeful numbers, so that wherever one looked, there was no escaping the unwanted visitor. It just wasn’t our lawn that had it, so did our neighbours. I had gone to the store and bought several bottle sprays of Round Up and a bag of grass seeds as well. Armed with a forceful need to kill the spiky leafed dandelion, I had somehow sprayed too much, but I reasoned my way out of it.
“It says on the bottle its not harmful to the lawn,” I say. Of course, a few weeks later, our front lawn looked scorched in spots, all because I had outdone myself again.
In May my youngest gave me a pot of purple orchids to mark Mother’s Day. So beautiful were they that I promptly bought orchid food. I listened to my mom who became my adviser on things that grew, and we’d talk long distance from her home in Virginia.
“The squirrel got to the blackberries first,” and she’d marvel at the bobbing tulips in her vast garden that bloomed under her care. So I carefully listened, fed the indoor plants (I had all of seven!!) with fertilizer that my mom bought for me when she came to visit in 2007 and even thought of getting myself a terrarium that was all the rage in my sister’s deck in her Wash DC condo.
“Like the one in Beauty and the Beast?” I asked her one time she was at my mom’s house and we talked plants again.
“Yes. Exactly that,” my sister said. On Facebook she proudly showed off her plants, some growing in small found glass.
Out front, the Asian lilies are barely alive, pockmarked by the bugs that got to them first. My husband had planted the asian lilies right beside the lilies my mom planted for me in 2007. I had seen the red coloured bug, or beetle, or whatever it was that ate the lilies, and tried to use vinegar to kill it, to no avail.
I will be spending a part of this summer away in New York, Virginia and South Carolina. The New York Times fashion and style columns is abloom with talk about blue hydrangeas and blue dresses everywhere, and I resolve that I will buy a blue dress for my niece’s wedding that is to take place on the beaches of South Carolina.
“You haven’t bought a dress?” my mom asked me a week or so ago.
“I was thinking I would get one in New York.”
“You wont have enough time to do that there,” she says. Of course she is right. There is talk we are going to a Cirque de Soleil show, take in a flea market in Brooklyn, browse the Museum of Modern Art, and go up the Empire State Building, pay a visit to Ground Zero, in no apparent order.
My girls had asked me earlier in the day if I wanted to join them for church later. “Too hot,” I say.
“When its cold you say its too cold,” they chorused. I hadn’t been out of the house since yesterday, and I find I don’t miss going out.
“You barely go anywhere,” the girls challenge me. Usually I reserve the weekend for going out with my husband, whether that be at the mall or to see a movie, or watch old movies on Netflix, so I get housework done by Friday and early Saturday. At last I say something, remembering the tequila thread on Facebook. “I will get drunk on Tequila, and spend the last days of summer lounging on the beach.”