Posts tagged ‘summertime’

First Tomato (Sandwich)

Libby’s recent column over at Literary Mama brought me back to one of my favorite series, the Bunny Planet books by Rosemary Wells. In each one, a bunny is having a pretty lousy day until the Bunny Queen, Janet, whisks the animal off to the Bunny Planet for “the day that should have been.”

I’ve always identified most with the hapless Claire, who doesn’t get a good breakfast and whose shoes fill with snow on the way to school; she has to sit through two hours of math at school (no matter how long the math lesson was, it always felt like two hours to me), is served baloney sandwiches for lunch, and then is the only girl in her gym class who can’t do a cartwheel: this sounds like any number of bad days in my childhood!

Luckily, in the Bunny Planet, it’s summer and Claire is home, where she can pick vegetables from her garden and then hang out in the kitchen watching her mother cook — this, in turn, sounds like any number of good days from my childhood.

Claire’s mother makes her soup from the summer’s first tomato, but I think my mother would agree that the best thing to do with the very first tomato is a sandwich, and that’s what I made today: just one sliced tomato, on toast, with some mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Yum.

I ate mine too fast to take a picture; this image is from Out of the Garden

A Summer Evening, in two takes

As you may know, San Francisco is sweating through an unusual heat wave this week. Even here in the fog belt, the temperatures are in the 90s. I love it — I get to wear the sun dresses I buy (against my better judgment) each year and which then hang in my closet, mocking me. Don’t I know by now that I only get to wear sun dresses once or twice a year? But when the weather’s like this, I revel in it: we ride bikes after dinner; we barbecue on the deck; we go out without jackets and scarves.

But much as I love the heat, I know it throws us all off. Tony doesn’t really like it, the boys aren’t used to it. And when it’s this hot, even I can get a little crabby.

And so tonight was glorious and hot and we went out to dinner — but, you know, family life… it’s not always such smooth sailing. It was a good night with some bumps along the way, and on nights like this I wonder how we’ll all remember it down the line. Here are two possibilities:


I pick Ben up from t-ball, where he and his buddies sweat good-naturedly through their one hour practice, and tell him Tony and I think we’ll all go out to dinner in the neighborhood tonight.

We park the car at home and get Ben’s bike and Eli’s trike out of the garage; the boys bike happily the several blocks to the restaurant, ringing their bells and waving to passersby.

We sit at an outside table, and the boys’ food (plain pasta and roasted artichokes) comes promptly. Tony and I enjoy salads–butter lettuce with asparagus and green goddess dressing– and pizzas (mine’s topped with arugula, goat cheese, sweet peas and mint; yum!) and big glasses of cold wine.

We walk and bike home. Tony bathes the boys while I sit on the couch watching a Tivo’d episode of Nigella Lawson’s cooking show.

I pick Ben up from t-ball and say we’re planning to eat out. He asks first to eat at the local tacqueria (ok for take out, but I didn’t want to eat there), then suggests Chinese. The Chinese place is fine, but we’ve gotten take out from there too often lately, and I’m not in the mood. I tell him where we’re planning to go–the casual Cal-Italian bistro–and he grumbles and sulks all the way home.

As we pull into the driveway, I try to cheer him by suggesting maybe he and Eli could ride their bikes to the restaurant. He loves the idea. We go inside to get Eli and Tony, who mishears my plan and somehow within a minute I’m sniping at him about I don’t know what.

We get the bikes out and head to the restaurant, a 10-minute trip that restores everyone’s good mood.

At the restaurant, the waiter is harried and inattentive. He brings the boys’ food promptly (big points for that), but the rest comes in slow waves, and my salad comes sprinkled with the speck (smoked ham) that I’d asked him to leave off. By the time my speck-free salad comes back, the boys are done with their pastas, and the wine still hasn’t come. The pizzas arrive; Eli says “I’m done here!” and I take him out for a walk while the pizza cools a bit.

On the walk home, Ben’s so busy waving and ringing his bell that he runs right into me. I yell in surprised pain, Ben starts to cry. I storm off–pushing Eli’s trike harder than necessary–my foot throbbing, leaving Tony to talk to Ben. There’s still a 4″ tread mark on my calf.

When we arrive home, Ben apologizes and asks softly if he can ride up to the end of the block and back, “super-fast.” I finally soften and say sure; he and Eli race down the sidewalk.

We all go inside, Tony takes the boys up for a cool bath. I sit on the couch and watch Nigella make a fondue.


The first day back from a trip back east is always a little slow, a little foggy (mentally and, in the summer, literally). Even when all the flights go well, the flight is looooong, and (because we like to have a bit of a visit still on the last day) we get home pretty late.

Still, we’ve been back just over 12 hours and I’ve unpacked the bags, done (though not yet folded or put away) the laundry, and called to get off the mailing list of most of the catalogues that came in our absence (Back in the Saddle? why, oh why??). Tony replenished the fridge, and the boys have built a new train track.

Meanwhile, our 6 days in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania (an unexpected trip over the MD/PA border for a wedding breakfast; Elrena and Violeta, we waved in your directions!) included most of the requisite summer fun: running in sprinklers, catching fireflies, splashing in the local pool, and visiting with many cousins (first, second, and once-removed), aunts, uncles, nephews, and nieces.

Life is good. And although I’m sad to pack away my sun dresses and the boys shortie pj’s, I’m already thinking about a late summer trip east so that we can use them again.