Being my birthday month, July has always seemed like the best time of the year to me. It has a scent and a sound and colors that suit me. Red, white and blue of course, because those are the colors of the countries of my birth and of my heart. And, of course, the deep rich green of high summer foliage and vegetables.
But it has a sound, too, of pipes and drums and pyrotechnics and waves lapping the shore and birds and oh, so many things that I like.
When I was a teenager enamored with poetry, I wrote that "July was a sultry harlot, doing her dance on the summer lawn."
I still believe those words suit July to a T. When it's hot and dry, her dance ruins summer lawns.
July has a scent, too, of cottages aired for the first time, a smell of the sea, the wine-rich smell of old wood and old jugs and crocks from the back room. On cool days a hint of fresh water and juniper. On hot days, cooked pavement.
July reminds me of the tar wagons that painted Main Street every summer. The hot, scorchy black smell, a little acrid, a little sweet.
I have so many wonderful, colorful memories of Fourths of July going far back: Three years old at the cottage, the wonder of a Roman candle farther down the beach. Seven years old, watching fireworks from an island where someone kept horses. So many relatives, friends and neighbors gathering on the porch of the big white house on Main Street to watch the parade pass by.
Later, stuck in a hot city with no parade, only humidity. Still later, driving up in the hills above Ephraim in Door County, where the air smells like woodsmoke all year long. We drove past a farm where a family had gathered for a picnic supper in the foundations of an old homestead. That, I thought, was a perfect way to mark the holiday, with family and a family home, steeped in history and the wine of summer nights.
Another holiday, cooking steaks on a hibachi and downing martinis on the balcony. That apartment was on a hill and felt like a crow's nest. We could see the fireworks of two cities from that perch.
This year we are rebuilding the front porch of our 112-year-old Victorian house, also on a hill. It's a lot of work, and frankly, so is this salad from Coastal Living. It's made with spinach, beets, green beans, corn, peas, shallots, goat cheese, and roasted walnuts.
But it has a sweet, earthy flavor that complemented our grilled steak and shrimp. We washed it down with a pink wine from the Midi.
While I was on the road last month, this blog's second anniversary quietly came and went. Thank you to all of you who have stayed the course here.