Summer's End

 Time has slowed to a crawl. The days are hot and long and gloriously paused before summer breaks like a wave with the coming of September. I treasure these last couple of weeks.

The neighborhood pool is closing as children return to school. I bike around town and notice that the tourists are leaving (they'll be back soon: SA is best when the heat has broken) and it is quiet and still on city streets. 

I attended a fun end-of-summer party recently in which we all brought five pictures from recent travels and told one story. It could have turned out a bit too twee, but it didn't: It was a fun evening. It helped that the travelers, instead of smug, were passionate about travel. They were genuinely curious about other people's experiences. People told stories about camping in Colorado, about a teaching gig in Budapest, about a bicycle ride outside of Amsterdam. It was a take on "What I did on my Summer Vacation," but with wine.

I'm reading Italian writer Elena Ferrante's trilogy "Neapolitan Novels"  which includes My Brilliant Friend and The Story of a New Name, and I am awaiting Europa's translation of her third, Storia di chi fugge e di chi resta, perfect for long afternoons.  Her novel The Days of Abandonment is like scalding water.  And I just finished Haruki Marakami's new book, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage. I don't want to get up off the couch. 

Tea dresses are what I'm thinking about now, maybe because they are a great transition dress.  My favorite is a navy cotton with teeny white flowers scattered about and buttons down the bodice that I thrifted a couple of years ago. I wear it with my Saltwater sandals or Supergas in the summer and then with skinny flats and a vintage cardigan - '50s, embellished with a scattering of seed pearls- as the weather cools.  In the winter I'll wear it with nubby tights, ankle boots, and a thick pullover or a shrunken Pendleton wool blazer. For a funkier vibe when I'm feeling it, I'll wear a pair of  Dansko strapped shoes or clogs. This dress is one of the most versatile things I own. 

I'm wearing it barefoot now, and I'm feeling sleepy in the hottest part of the day, as I stayed up late last night, sitting on the veranda with friends drinking whisky, neat. I adjust the wood blinds, and take to my sun dried sheets with a plate of cold melon slices, a book (and a lover) for a siesta and luxuriate in these last days before we wake again to the fall! 

Goodbye summer's golden days! It all went by so quickly, didn't it?



We have a tradition of meriendas: a mid-afternoon break of pan dulce and a cafecita. 

I have been to meriendas that were elaborate: trays of dainty sandwiches, sweets, fresh fruit, breads and cheeses served with coffee poured in thin porcelain cups. They were memorable and delightful afternoons.

You may plan to meet a friend at a local coffee house (macarons and espresso are perfect!) or bistro, or you simply take a break that is honored every day at your own kitchen table or work desk with a cafecita, a cookie, ( I often have a piece of dark chocolate and  some almonds) or a slice of tea bread, and your own thoughts. I try to not to use the time to read or peruse the Internet. This small amount of time is an important ritual in my life,  because it is a moment I give as a gift to myself.   I luxuriate in the quiet.

Other countries and cultures have this ritual: the kaffee und kuchen in Germany, the British tea with bread and jam or little cakes, or le gouter, a refined version of the late afternoon snack.  
I am rested and restored to go on with a day that may be busy until midnight, and I am not starving before dinner.

Meriendas are about creating moments of grace and elegance in your life.  Taking time in a busy day to gather your thoughts, and in a culture that stresses the denial of goodies, it is a way to give yourself permission to  enjoy the childlike pleasure of eating something that makes you feel happy. Enjoy!



August is still afternoons of blazing heat and the song of cicadas as I bring in sun dried sheets off the line. Autumn's change is around the corner, but it will be hot here until late October. The fiery heart of summer is now. 

Don't you love the effortlessness of  summer: air-dried hair pulled into a topknot, minimal make-up, sandals, and little jersey or linen dresses that feels cool and comfortable? It reminds me of summers spent in the Southern California of my youth, an natural and easy style that allowed any minute we might bike to the beach.   

I tap the Beach Boys on iTunes and pack a lunch, a colorful towel, and book in my bike basket and head to the lake-like pool at San Pedro Springs Park (the second oldest park in the U.S.) to get wet and read in the shade of ancient live oaks.  Even if you don't get wet, public pools are fun.

Dress Muse favorites for August?

Read books that feature cold climes:  In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the U.S.S. Jeannette by Hampton Sides is better than air conditioning!

Muscle shirts can be worn dressed with  black cropped cotton pants,  pretty sandals and delicate gold sculptural earrings to feel dressy and edgy at the same time. I've ordered several of them from Everlane.

Wear something distinctive like a necklace of Ghana beads.  A friend brought me back a string from her travels recently, but they can be found in fair trade shops and online. (I am scrupulous in buying products that are from other cultures from craftspeople who benefit
from it directly. Check out websites like  Global Mamas for fair trade beads).

Chop and steam fresh beets, dress them with  champagne vinegar, olive oil, and fresh dill and stick them in the fridge for a cool salad for dinner.

Love the new colored athletic or canvas shoes. I have a pair of aqua Supergas that I wear with rolled skinny jeans and one of the muscle tanks, or I wear them with skirts or tea dresses.

As summer wears on, I am moving away from summer raspberry and coral lip balms to more neutral (for me) shades of terra cotta and caramel.

Leo is my favorite astrological sign: Aren't we just the best?