The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s end, a sad, monotonous song. “Summer is over and gone,” they sang. “Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.”
My sidekick is going back to school.
That’s really what it feels like, even though there have been plenty of moments this summer when I have thrown up my hands and said “I need this kid to go back to school/to a sleep-away camp/to a friend’s house/to his grandparent’s” because he was making me nuts. I mean obviously. But all in all, he’s been my sidekick. My travel buddy around the city, my assistant at the grocery store, my Disney trivia partner on the subway, and now my apprentice in the kitchen. So I’m a little sad that the summer is, at last, over.
But there are wonderful things about it — he gets a social life that isn’t his mom or a computer chat, for starters, which is probably important. I get a schedule… wait, I hate schedules. But yes, I get a schedule. I’ll leave the apartment every day. That can be an accomplishment for me, so that’s good, too. I work better in cafes and in public, when the presence of other people who might see my screen shames me away from goofing around on social media, so my time will be better spent.
Good things, all.
And I’m starting to enjoy the idea of seasons for the first time, as if I’m finally getting the hang of this living in the Northeast thing. In Florida, I dreaded any season that wasn’t summer (namely, winter) because I found the days so boring. I like the turmoil and confusion of an afternoon thunderstorm during the rainy season more than most. I’m strange, I know. The endless sunny days, punctuated at random moments by a day of rain rolling in from the northwest, that characterize the dry season in Florida… they do nothing for me.
But summer in New York City is a strange beast, wobbling back and forth — foggy days, clammy and of an indeterminate temperature that is neither warm nor cool; searing hot weeks without a cloud in the sky by day nor a cool-down at night; humid breezes off the harbor and the ocean that somehow don’t stir up thunderstorms; sudden crashes of thunder that are neither expected nor repeated. The weather can be boring, but not in the same monotony of a Florida winter. So there’s that, anyway.
And the cool air that has flooded the city over the past week — it’s lovely, I have to admit. The hot here is just kind of annoying. It isn’t a fact of life the way it is in Florida, it’s more of an imposition on a lifestyle that requires a lot of walking over (and under) a lot of pavement. It’s a good lifestyle, it’s a healthy lifestyle, but it wants a more moderate temperature than 90 degrees. And a more sedate storm pattern than a daily monsoon.
So today, on the last day of summer, we sat around. Well, that’s not entirely true. We went on a jog. Then we sat around. I worked on writing projects. Cal did whatever Cal does. He got bored. I handed him The Hobbit. He came out of his room a half-hour later and said he could see Gandalf walking down the hall, it was so descriptive. I said that’s what most Young Adult books don’t bother with: the word-paintings that put you in the story. I think we have a winner with Tolkien, but really, how can one not have a winner with Tolkien? Tolkien is always the right decision.
And then he wanted to know what we were going to make for dinner. Night two of cooking with Calvin! I had a whole chicken and some gorgeous early New York apples, so we came up with Roast Chicken with Apples, a recipe that requires a lot of chopping. Luckily Calvin proved he is not afraid of handling raw meat and took care of the chicken while I was cutting things up; he did the rinsing, the drying, the rubbing-all-over-with-butter, the cavity-stuffing, and the seasoning. We considered cooking the giblets as an experiment, but when I opened the packet I saw they’d only given me the neck and the heart — so stingy! We cut open the heart and examined the chambers instead.
So tonight we’ll eat a fall dinner: roast chicken with apples, sauteed kale, those lovely yellow tomatoes from the farmer’s market drizzled with balsamic vinegar. And tomorrow we’ll go back to school and schedules, and work hard, knowing that in just 31 days, we’ll be playing hard at Walt Disney World, sidekicks reunited.
Michael Smith’s Apple Roasted Chicken: The Messy Baker (We used homemade chicken stock instead of apple cider)