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For the most part, penultimate summer lives only in our memories, a childhood haze of endless sunny days with no school spent poolside, our limbs sealy and brown, slick with water. Mother's voice, calling distant, while the lightning bugs gather and flash and the streetlamps buzz and strengthen as we skip along the hedgerow, with the sun still lighting our way home despite the hour.

3 days and counting: Perfect summer in Sweden. This is when the tourist board rushes out to photograph the countryside, sunlight and warmth lighting up the red wooden houses and blue and gold crossed flags blend seamlessly into the sky behind. The house heats up early and the useless fan is mainly for comfort. Flies swarm inside at the slightest chance, finagling their way into any opening to roam restlessly through the house, drawn to the vibration of my voice, yelling, "Shut that door! Were you born in a barn?!" The children leap like salmon upstream through the sunshine. They alternate in small cycles, craving sunshine, craving shadow. One moment they are bouncing frenzied as Mexican jumping beans in circles on the big trampoline; the next, a quiet sursurrus of imagination rises murmuring in the playroom.

I am torn between getting long-neglected projects done and lying on the grass soaking up the sunshine. Weeding the front flowerbed yesterday, I cleared away the withered first growth of the lungwort to make room for the new green polka-dotted leaves beneath, and chopped down the fat finished stalks of the lupines with their edamame-looking seedpods. The tea rose has rewarded me with fine, fat blossoms of peachy pink, and the delphinium is gloriously violet. I worry about the cherry tree and the nameless red bush, both of them too vigorously soaped against invaders, now dropping their curled leaves. Tiny green sprouts bisect the children's plots: lettuce rearing up in rows to the sun. With my mom, they planted cucumber, tomato, red pepper; 2 kinds of lettuce and a many-armed sunflower. In the still, windless evenings, I walk slowly around the yard, spraying water like a blessing, and ducking while bumbling junebugs careen drunkenly around my head.

Today, a quiet gathering to celebrate America's birthday a couple of days in advance since here there is no day off, no parade, no fireworks. In the peaceful countryside near Skäralid, a grassy lawn beside a big red barn welcomes us. Soon the flagpole is sporting stars and stripes, right next to the stiff and dried greenery of the midsummer pole: Swedish and American traditions side by side. Picnic tables brown in the sun, while we spread blankets in the shade, sitting to chat and relax while the children run about in their red-white-and-blue outfits. The pool nearby beckons and a happy hour is spent splashing before heading back where the heatmaze shimmers over the grills. We pile our plates: BBQ chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs. A big bowl of cut strawberries and plump purple grapes. A buffet of shared sweets: Rice Krispie treats, brownies, chocolate cake adorned with strawberries. Roasting marshmallows over the grill rounds off the meal. Slowly, family by family, the group decreases as the sun lowers slightly.

Driving south through the sunshine, I sing songs of America to the kids: You're a grand old flag, you're a high flying flag and forever in peace may you wave...for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain...O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

"Mama," asks Martin wistfully, "Can't you sing something we know?" Obviously, I am much remiss in my patriotic duties. Someday, I swear, we'll be "home" for the 4th, and show them how it's really done.

Back home, the light belies the hour; the kids can't sleep despite darkened rooms with lowered blinds. Karin is anxious that the tooth fairy will understand that she has put her treasure under her pillow this time instead of in a glass by the sink as is the tradition here. The family next door are on vacation: they are all outside, even the baby up late, enjoying the benevolent light, laughing and playing.
It's the perfect evening soundtrack to punctuate a perfect summer day.

Bright and Bouncing Birthday Wishes to totte and conorh!
mood: peaceful
music: summer sounds


and you even questioned writing???

Lovely post - just lovely.


That bubble shot should be in a calendar somewhere--how'd you manage to even get the backdrop perfect?

Did Karin just lose her tooth today?

She did, at a birthday party earlier in the day before we went to the AWC picnic. :)

The children leap like salmon upstream through the sunshine

me likes! not just this, the whole thing. but this in particular. :-)

Your writing is always so lovely, but I especially loved this description of summer. The photo of Martin makes me want to go out and buy some bubbles.


I love the image of children leaping "like salmon upstream through the sunshine." Gorgeous.

And I think it's pretty clear that you need to lie on the grass and soak up the sun ~ while wearing sunscreen, of course.

Happy summer, and happy almost 4th of July.


Beautiful posts Liz... and those pictures!!! Perfect moments in time preserved.

I hope you don't do too many chores and stuff so you can't stop and enjoy the moment!

summer chores -- vote no

I vote for you sitting around drinking lemonade rather than doing chores during the summer. You're in Europe now. Stop being an American workaholic.


Re: summer chores -- vote no

Har! I've lived in Europe for 16 years of my life. You can take the girl out of America, but you can't take the American out of the girl. :P


That is SUCH a perfect picture of Martin.

And how many summer evenings do I remember going to bed before my friends, hearing their laughter outside my window? Tell your sweeties they are not alone!

Happy Fourth of July!


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lizardek's obiter photos
lizardek's obiter photos

Feeling generous? Be my guest!

I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

Abraham Lincoln

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