Sunday, August 03, 2008

recipe for a perfect summer day

Soon I'm going to have one of these for every season.


- one merry, adventurous friend
- a small boat... a rowboat is ideal
- a jar of lemonade
- deviled eggs
- a largish river or lake... preferably containing numerous small islands, or best yet, a miniature archipelago of rocks, suitable for wading among
- a half gallon of coffee ice cream.

- optional, but recommended: sunscreen


Gather your friend, along with the lemonade and deviled eggs, and proceed to the boat. Cast off and row away. It is essential to have no set destination and a very generous time limit. Row upstream at a leisurely pace, finding humor in your attempts to battle the current and various small rocks that seem to follow you around. If you have both read Wind in the Willows, it is appropriate to discuss it at this time, and singing that song about ducks dabbling is encouraged.

Once you have each gotten a handle on rowing individually, you may suppose that you would proceed faster if you each took an oar and rowed together. Feel free to try the experiment, if you are both good-natured and apt to laugh at frustrations. It may be helpful if one of you has some experience with sailing, and can assert that, while it may look as though you are zig-zagging chaotically, you are, in fact, "tacking." Choose a goal: one of those pesky rocks that has been two feet away for the last fifteen minutes will do nicely. You can put all your combined effort into passing this rock, and feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment when you have succeeded.

After the goal is attained, it's a good time to head for one of those islands or archipelagoes. I cannot urge the archipelago strongly enough, especially if you are of an imaginative disposition. With your skirt hiked up or your pants rolled to your knees, you can wade between the rocks, and secretly imagine that you are a tropical explorer. Your choice of footwear becomes important at this point. Secure, water-friendly shoes will allow you to wade with the greatest ease and comfort; on the other hand, flip-flops provide that element of danger and difficulty which every tropical explorer ought to encounter. They are prone to slipping off your feet, or if they stay on your feet, slipping off the rocks beneath your feet. They provide the toes and heels little protection against stubs and scrapes, and they will cause significant drag through the water, preventing you from skipping between secure perches as you might otherwise do. The choice is yours, but for my part, I think the flip-flops enhance the experience tremendously.

Identify a good place to sit and rest -- shade is beneficial, especially if you have omitted the sunscreen. Return to the boat to gather your provisions, and sit in the shade, eating your deviled eggs and drinking your lemonade and commenting on such small delights of Nature as present themselves to your eye. When you are both well-rested, return along your perilous path to the boat.

Now you see the tremendous advantages of rowing upstream at the start of your journey. Your return voyage will take less than half the time, and all you will have to worry about is steering around obstacles. Now is the time for rest and reverie and enjoying the beauties around you: the bright wildflowers on the small rocky islands you pass; the damselflies courting; the lazy beats of a heron's wings, with its wingtips just touching their reflection in the water's surface. Gather in these things and save them; you may need them someday, in some darker time.

Land your boat; return to your home; change into cooler, drier clothes. I hope you have not forgotten the coffee ice cream. This is the time for it. Serve yourselves two generous bowls, and enjoy.