One Hot Summer
by Mary Wakefield Buxton
Urbanna, Va.— What a summer. I’ve reached the age where they pass quickly . . . Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day tumbling right on top of each other.
Not so when I was a child and days dragged by, often because of awaiting some wondrous event—school letting out, a birthday party, Christmas. How we ached back then to be 21 and “free at last.” For our generation, reaching such exalted state meant facing the Vietnam War.
When babies arrived, time sped up. The infant in my arms in the 1960s was soon a toddler and before long it was the first day of school. Suddenly, a daughter is turning 50 and a son 44.
I found myself thinking of my parents this summer with numerous flashbacks to my childhood in Vermilion, Ohio. What a grand place to grow up was my small hometown . . . just like Urbanna. When I jumped on my bike each morning this summer for my ride to town that same glorious youthful deja-vu sensation returned and I was transformed once again to a child back home in Ohio.
Well, that’s life. It races by but keeps returning in bits and pieces. We finally learn to stop expecting anything and to simply appreciate each day that comes no matter what our troubles.
I took my usual summer off from writing this column. It was good to have a rest from weekly deadlines. But then, bang, vacation was gone, like pollen in the wind, and I’m back at my desk wondering what to write about each week.
Such a hot summer. Perhaps it was not any warmer than normal but it’s just that high temperatures affect me more now than before. I stayed home with the dogs or worked at the law office trying my best to stay cool.
Concern for a clean house wanes in summer heat. With a couple of big dogs, who cares about vacuuming the house when it’s hot? Not me. “Lord” and “Lady” don’t mind if I skip chores as long as I remember their meals. They sleep at night on two pads in the utility room and spend their days trailing me.
Summer routine is more relaxed at the “Pineapple Palace” than during the year. My first jobs are to feed the birds, squirrels, dogs and, finally, humans. A bunny has joined the daily menagerie for breakfast off the kitchen patio, and I worried all summer about cats that hover in shrubs, ever ready to pounce. The dogs stood by the kitchen window dutifully watching for cats, ready to bark at any sightings, much like a bosun pipe that alerts the captain on a ship.
Then, dreary dishes while sipping morning tea, laundry, bike ride, shower, and Mozart with my daily crossword. Classical music, going one-on-one with musical genius, dulls my continuing disappointment with democracy, and I highly recommend it to escape the cacophony of modern-day society. Then I fix lunch, don something decent from the dregs of my closet, and rush off to the office.
I love to complain to friends about going to work at age 70, but the truth (which I never hide from readers) is I love going to work each day. My duties: notarizing or witnessing legal documents, figuring payroll, helping with document assembly and filing, and I can talk the ears off a client who wants to chat.
When spirits lag, I give pep talks to staff about how wonderful it is to have a job and how fortunate we are to be challenged every day to be the best that we can be in our field of work—my usual shtick, for I ardently believe work delivers the greatest happiness on earth.
But, best of all, is meeting the clients. Many are going through difficult times, and having the opportunity to help them reminds me to appreciate every moment of life . . . the good, the bad, and the difficult.
Then home to feed and walk dogs, do dinner, dishes, and off to swim in the Urbanna Harbor pool. The day is finished curled up in a corner with a good book or a BBC film, my feet dangling in dogs. The last part is the frosting on the cake.
My summer included a delicious chicken salad sandwich at the famous lunch counter at Marshall’s Drug Store, Evelyn Turner’s big 90th bash at the Deltaville Maritime Museum, a housewarming at Father Paul and Lillian Andersen’s new digs near the Piankatank Golf Club, Vivian Milby’s 70th gala at the gorgeous Chesapeake Inn, a Middlesex Museum ice cream social at Lansdowne, a luncheon style show at Christ Church, and many other fun events.
But now tourists are gone and Urbanna is quiet once again. We prepare for autumn and give thanks for cooler weather. It’s good to be back.