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Greek-American Stories: Warning: Summer is Approaching

The past winter had just enough snow to whiten the path toward my door. A broom swept it away.

It was a bit disappointing. I missed wearing my boots and going to the park to walk and watch the kids on sleds, their laughter – having fun like kids should. This year there was none of it.

Winter brings a calmness that invites more reading, household projects, doing crossword puzzles after dinner dishes are washed and just before Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune … and a visit with friends to play Scrabble.

The sky is either a crowd of billowy clouds or bluebird blue accompanied by a deep refreshing chill and a silence only nature can create.

Autumn has a beauty so special; it’s when we wear snuggly sweaters and enjoy the gorgeous leaves that fling a rainbow of color before falling, like an actor’s final bow.  Shredding them makes excellent mulch, feeding the earthworms and improving the soil for next season’s planting of tomatoes, cucumbers and vlita. Apples taste better too in autumn. Did you know that it takes 36 apples to make a gallon of cider? And, did you know that ‘fall’ is a word primarily used only by Americans? And, did you know President John Adams drank a glass of cider every morning? He had a lot of stress being vice president for one term. Adams lived to 90 at a time when the average lifespan was about 40 to 45. You’ve probably heard, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’.

Fall is also when pumpkins are plentiful, always bringing back sweet memories of my maternal yiayia’s pumpkin turnovers and pita pies, and the squares of pumpkin she simmered in sugar and cinnamon. I remember how frustrated she became when she saw pumpkins carved for display and then tossed away afterwards. She would say, “humph! They have no thought that somewhere someone is hungry. Humph!”

But spring is the most satisfying season of all. Driving or walking along any road where parks, forests, or patches of undisturbed, undeveloped land exists, shrubs, trees and grasses greet us with new greenery, a green that’s so bright and fresh that I can’t help but sense the delight of renewal. It’s like Mother Earth is greeting us with fondness, like an old friend that had been away for a while. The birds in their knowing way end their silence with song and plan nests on the high branches. Each day is unpredictable – sometimes warm and dry, other times cold and  humid with the expected, refreshing rain.

Then it happens. Summer! I know! If I was asked to make a list on the merits of summer, I’d have the shortest list. My friends never fail to remind me, “Kiki, it’s ‘fun in the sun time’! Time for ice tea, walking barefoot in the back yard, wearing sleeveless dresses, shorts, t-tops, sandals, having picnics, going swimming at the shore, going boating, and drying clothes outdoors again.”

That’s when I tell them, “are you finished? Now, let me tell you the real deal,” saying, I have neighbors that call in bug sprayers to spray their backyards seasonally with lethal mosquito chemicals. Signs on their lawns warn the neighbors about the poisoning. Then those annoying, nasty, unemployed critters decide, “hey! Let’s go next door!” Squadrons of flies and mosquitoes join the foray in my backyard, adding to a misery of bites. Then, there’s sweat, humidity, and wishing I didn’t need to use the oven. Well, you can’t eat rabbit food all summer. Try weeding the flower beds and veggie plots!  That’s sweatier, knee bending work! But, it’s got to be done despite the pesky critters that feast on my arms and face. Then, try doing housework in the summer. Whew!  Try food shopping and parking in the heat, then returning to an overheated car. Another, ‘whew’. BUT! Like it or not, it’s coming! I have to admit, I’m grateful to be living in a small town instead of the city despite the exhausting seasonal work.  However, there are a few people who find the summer season enjoyable. They are the farmer, the hobos, the life guards, the kids who have the summer off from school and….the bug sprayers!

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