The weekend was like the most spectacular gift the gods of late summer could muster: sunshiny, clear, breezy and free of commitment. It was the kind of weekend that enveloped me in its wide, generous arms and wouldn't let go. And I was happy to stay there and honour its whims. It was two days of hanging out in the harbour – people watching, reading, photographing, feeling the sun and relishing the freedom.
None of my attempts to photograph the light on the lake can capture how spectacular it looks – like billions and billions of floating diamonds shining so bright they hurt my eyes.
Me and a strawberry ice cream cone wander into a crowd of chuckling people to find a busker riding the smallest bicycle in the world. Just beyond, a lady dressed in officy looking gear hobbles in painful looking high heels and sips from a giant can of Sapporo beer.
In the middle of one meandery walk I sit on a bench under a tree, and the feeling of the breeze on my skin is like swaths of silk being trailed across it. A man sits next to me and we both try to capture photographs of greedy squawking seagulls going after bits of bread being thrown into the water by some girls. His camera is much more impressive than mine, and I soon give up on the birds and try out some shots of peoples’ feet and legs as they walk by.
I loll on the grass and flip pages of a magazine while I watch the action on the water. People crowding around the perimeters of tour boats and sailing ships. Others kayaking and canoeing toward the island. Sailboats leaning deep in the wind. Plane after plane setting down into the airport.
Sunday, Carly texts me from the baseball game and says she will come down and meet me after. We have a beer next to the bandshell and we’re glad we don’t have to listen to the bad girly hip hop music for too long. Kelsey texts and she’s coming down too so we plan a simple meal and buy a bottle of wine and go back to my place.
We eat baguette with olive oil and fresh grated parmesan and black pepper and we catch up on our news and plans. We admire the colour in our meal: red field tomatoes, yellow corn on the cob, orange and red peppers, green asparagus. We think the corn might be the best we’ve had this season. Later Carly takes off to go meet up with some friends and Kelsey and I finish the wine. I walk out with her to meet the streetcar, and then walk down by the water to try and hang on to that last few minutes of the weekend, feeling thankful for the spontaneous summer supper with my girls.
It’s the kind of weekend that sets you right again. I’m facing Monday with a deeper suntan and a rested mind. And it wasn’t until it the weekend was over that I realised just how much I needed those two days of glorious late summer and doing nothing in particular with them.
This is a response to Willow's latest Magpie Tales visual creative writing prompt. Visit Magpie Tales and find all kinds of wonderful writers and poets and their takes on the prompt and giving hearty support to each others' creative efforts. Give it a try! A creative challenge is good for you!
I come from tomato country, in what many call Canada’s “banana belt” – Essex County. You never tasted a tomato as good as a warm, fresh picked field tomato. No tomato was redder, richer and full of flavour as those. Sadly, most of the tomatoes there are machine harvested now, and with the forced ripening for one-time harvesting, they have never tasted the same.
There was a tomato factory in Amherstburg when I was a kid, and every August the familiar tomato soup smell permeated the air as the farmers rolled in daily with their wagonloads of tomatoes, and the colourful and exotic migratory workers from Jamaica would appear in the streets. Sometimes the boys in my neighbourhood would run after the tractors and hitch a ride on the back of the wagon. That tomato soup smell always reminded us that back to school was coming.
When I grew up I married into a farm family and one of their crops was tomatoes. Workers would come in from Quebec each year to pick them. For a few years before my kids were born I would sit on the planting machine with the others and feed the seedlings into the grippers on the wheel. The steady clicking and turning of the machine had a meditative effect – and made the job rather pleasant, and I learned to love the bitter smell of the plants. Later in the season we would hoe weed patches – a much harder job but you sure didn’t have any problems sleeping at night!
When I think of those years I think of gorging on summer’s bounty. We would have fresh corn and toasted tomato sandwiches every night for supper. We canned pickles and tomato sauce and our freezers were stocked with bags of corn, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli and asparagus. I remember long days, with barbeques and dogs and deeps suntans and the smell of dirt and grass on my stained, calloused hands.
These are the things I think about when I find field tomatoes on the market in August and I pick one up and take a deep whiff.