Coffee with Mimi: Long sunny days are more than enough

Sometimes, a little activity is just enough. Living at a high voltage level for an extended period of time is best left to the younger generation. When the day is old at mid-afternoon and your main thought is to sink onto the couch with a cold beverage of any sort, you know you have crossed over into a new era.

Though we are semi-retired and our children no longer live at home, our year still flows with the school calendar as is often the case in small communities.

Summer is a less structured time. Days of long sunny hours. More casual and cooler food preparation options. More casual and cooler clothing options. Less time cooped inside. Maybe a chance to get away on a vacation. Stretches of time without so many commitments.

Who am I kidding? Summer has longer hours of daylight in which there is more time to do stuff and for some reason we tend to fill those hours up with lots of stuff.

There is the garden. While away from the house at my other job, those determined tomato plants are working overtime producing buckets of tomatoes which need my attention. In a weak moment, I agreed to plant half a dozen tomato plants which will produce enough tomatoes for us, all our children, any neighbors who aren’t silly enough to plant tomato plants and thus will take some of the produce off our hands, and any critters in the neighborhood who sneak up on them for midnight snacks.

Over the weekend, I processed and froze all the tomatoes accumulated on the kitchen counter and window sill in the previous 36 hours when the tomato production finally hit its stride. With a sigh of relief, I tucked the sweet quart bags into the freezer and relaxed. Come winter I will be happy to have homegrown tomatoes for sauces, stews and soups.

Monday after work at that other job, I was greeted at the kitchen sink with an equal number of ripe specimens resting there mocking me. It was as though I hadn’t done a thing the previous day. How can that be possible?

Well, we are minding our own store and that of another gardener who is away on vacation. That garden has even more tomato plants than I do, all of which are thriving this year with the help of my husband who is watering away during any rainless periods.

A farmer I am not. I do get pleasure in having the first tomato on the block and among the other family growers. That first BLT of the summer is such a treat, especially if it comes with some bragging rights.

But soon the excitement wears off when faced with the daunting task of keeping up with nature’s bounty.

There was a time in my life when I toyed with the idea of canning and freezing enough for the family for the winter. Visions of a freezer full of homegrown veggies was tempting. We even acquired a freezer. But by the time I had a yard, my farming fate was sealed by children with baseball and swim team interests, and a job that knew no limits to demands on time, especially in the summer.   

Adding to summer pleasures, and many grandparents experience this, is the opportunity for a stretch of time with the grandchildren when the little darlings come to go to camp, and to give their own parents a chance to paint their living room or power wash the house siding without interruption.

It would seem to be the perfect way to have the visit – part of the day the child, or more, is away at camp, singing and dancing, wearing him or herself out. The rest of the day is spent in relative calm and quiet, reading a book, or watching a movie.

Not so.

To get to camp with all materials, clothing, needed emergency supplies, permission slips, and a clean health mask is a challenge. We must be out of practice, or forgotten how to do it. At least twice during the five-day camp, something was forgotten on the inbound trip necessitating a return to the house or car. Homebound at the conclusion of the day was no better.

In addition, camp comes with homework. And a video to watch to get the instructions. All leading up to final performances.

More excitement than a body can stand, or has energy to process. By the end of the week, parents are happy to see their child, and grandparents are ready for a nap.

Finally, on a whim, we decided that this is the year and the time, with long sunny days, to actually add a porch onto the back of the house. A construction project, under any circumstances, can stretch the bounds of sanity and restful existence.  After years of talking and internally negotiating all the possibilities, we launched virtually overnight into the project.

Long, sunny days are filled with construction noise, tools, measuring and remeasuring, questioning and debating, and stepping over wood, doors, and windows scattered around the house. Long, sunny days will soon be over. I hope we are ready.