Mid-summer always dazzles, with the longest, brightest, hottest days. Can anything be sweeter than a day in June that might contain a wedding, an anniversary, a morning in strawberry fields, an afternoon reminiscing and baking rhubarb pie, an evening TV date with your favorite Michigan baseball team, or a moonlit rendezvous with fireflies?
I guess you could say, without a doubt – these are among my favorite things of summer.
This year, 2012, we didn’t attend any weddings in June. But, I was thinking about a monumental one that took place 45 anniversaries ago on June 17. My husband and I had just finished our second year of teaching. There wasn’t much fanfare – only about 50 guests at the college chapel where we were married, followed by a reception at my grandmother’s home (my dad’s mom) in the neighboring town where I grew up.
This was all by design. It was a beautiful, warm day in June. I’d made my dress, 1960s style—of simple white cotton piqué. My flowers were beautiful pink peonies from both grandmothers’ gardens. I remember people saying it was one of the best weddings they’d attended. It was simple. The church ladies cooked. And it rained.
This year, I was thinking about all the favorite traditions of June. Not just our anniversary –and how could all those years possibly have gone by already – but the wonderful memories of many Junes.
Do you ever mark your summers by the fruits of the season? Strawberries and rhubarb come to mind – fruits of early summer. Since moving to Livingston County (40 anniversaries ago), rarely a June passes without a trip to DeGroot’s Strawberries. Thankfully, those juicy, red jewels produced — despite Michigan’s cockeyed winter-spring.
I managed two excursions this year: One with my husband and his dad (who, at 95, loves to pick berries and was glad to have arrived from Florida in time for the annual trek to the berry patch), and the other by myself. I felt compelled to just to be alone in the strawberry fields, to savor the joy of picking and packing that beautiful box of berries.
Rhubarb was more the fruit of my youth. There was an abundance of it (between my parents’ farm, the neighbors, and my grandmother’s garden). My mom and her mom were noted for their rhubarb cream pie; and, to this day, it’s a family favorite. Yet, now, we never have enough of it around. Except this June, my husband brought home freezer bags of rhubarb, thoughtfully given by someone at work, already cut up in just the right amount for pies.
This is rare…having a good quantity of both fruits at the same time.
My father-in-law said he’d always liked strawberry rhubarb. I was in a dilemma. I wanted to make the traditional family rhubarb cream pie recipe – not the usual strawberry/rhubarb combo. So I tried putting about one-third strawberries in with the rhubarb and creamy filling. Personally, I don’t think it turned out so great. I think I’ll stick with straight rhubarb for that recipe.Just as I’d put away my sewing from my early years, I’d put away my pie making in the last decade or so. But, the rhubarb kept calling me to make pies – not sauce. Finally, I dug out my mom’s old church cookbook. There it was: Rhubarb Cream Pie.
Strawberries always meant shortcake, sauce, or just sliced with cream in our family. We’ve never raved about strawberry pie – even the crown prince of strawberry pies: the deep red, mile-high gelatin pie , loaded with big berries and swirled with whipped cream, that everyone craved and expected to be served at our church chicken barbecue in days gone by.
What they begged for at my home-town church dinners and festivals, when I was growing up, was the rhubarb cream pie. Of course, now, that would be a “no-no” for a church dinner, since it’s a cream pie. Sad. Yes, I’m glad for those memories of rhubarb cream pie…always a family request for gatherings when my mom was still alive.
And, could anything be sweeter in June, than to be feasting on rhubarb pie and/or strawberry shortcake while lazing in front of a television broadcast of our Detroit Tigers Baseball Team – especially when the summer season seems to be kicking in full steam, finally, at last, for them?
Speaking of berry, what about that Quintin Berry? What a spark of enthusiasm the “upstart rookie” (MLB sports writer Anthony Castrovince calls him) brings to the Tigers this season. He’s fun to watch. Berry enjoys “playing” on the baseball fields as much as I enjoy playing in the strawberry patch. He plays for the joy of the game; and I hope the joy lasts. That’s a beautiful example of playing your heart out — an inspiration for us all.
Those are some summer traditions I love: Baseball, strawberries and rhubarb, and always the June anniversary. And I wonder, what will the next five dazzling summers bring? This one seems particularly energetic. Have you felt it?
Summer seems sizzling already. I knew it when a monster dragonfly swooped down in front of my car windshield on my solo day in the berry patch, welcoming me as I tooled up the entrance drive.
I love dragonflies in summer…and fireflies.
With the heat ramping up, fireflies are out in sparkling splendor — darting neon lights to accompany me on a mid-summer eve stroll through the trees. A few mosquitoes may tag along, too. But, they don’t keep me from getting out for a twilight walk. Summer is too short not to get outside and breathe in the fresh evening air.
Walking is one tradition I began rather late in life. But as each anniversary, each lovely summer zooms by, I’m ever more grateful that I can participate in the activity. I plan to keep on walking and keeping my favorite summer traditions going for as long as I can. I’d like to keep summer sizzling, dazzling, beautiful, for as long as possible.