Thursday, July 03, 2008

Wicker and a Willow Tree

"Is everything done?" Mom asked managerially.
"All set," I replied, wiping the sweat off my forehead.
"Thanks," she would reply as she darted back into the kitchen. The familiar slam of the screen door masking my reply - "You're welcome."
After putting the lawn mower away I got myself a cold glass of milk from the kitchen. I gulped down one glass - then another while Mom was busy tossing a green salad. Tomatoes and cucumbers mixed with iceberg lettuce in a faux wooden bowl sat next to a large white bowl of macaroni salad. Steaks were marinading in the metal baking pan while a huge pot of water bubbled furiously on the stove. A moment later and the cut potatoes were submerged in the water, which ceased to boil.
It was hot in the kitchen. The standing fan was on the floor between the kitchen and the living room, trying in vain to drop the hot July temperatures below 80 degrees. It didn't stand a chance against the warmth of the stove.
"Bring these out to the picnic table," Mom said as she handed me paper plates and the multicolored wicker plate holders; a staple of summer dining on Antilla Court.
I walked out the backdoor, down the stairs and across the side yard to the picnic set that was situated beneath the giant weeping willow. I sat down and assembled the plates with each plate holder and stacked them neatly. I looked over across the backyard and there was Suki, nestled into a hole that she had recently dug. Her own brand of air conditioning. She watched me as I got up and walked over to her, her tail wagging in eager anticipation of a long belly rub. I obliged her.
She had knocked over her water bowl so I grabbed it and walked back to the side of the house where the hose was kept. I rinsed then refilled the bowl, taking a long gulp from the hose for myself. I walked back over and replaced the water bowl. I patted Suki again as Dad appeared from the rear yard with the grill in tow.
I watched as Dad went to work, methodically placing the grill, the grilling tools and the bag of charcoal in their assigned spots. He surveyed my handy work. No comment from him meant that all was well. Silently, Dad poured a mound or charcoal into the center of the round grill and doused the briquettes with lighter fluid. A quick strike of a match and we had fire.
Dad watched the flames for a few moments then he sat down in the nearby Adirondack chair. It would be awhile before the briquettes were hot enough for cooking. He pulled a pipe from his pants pocket, filled it with tobacco and lit up. Contented, he sat in silence. I gave Suki a final "scritch" and joined him. He looked over the freshly mowed yard between puffs. The smell of cherry tobacco mixed with that of the burning briquettes on the hazy afternoon air. I breathed in deeply.
"Looks good, me boy."
Now we waited.
We knew that Mom would come up with another chore or twelve before our guests arrived. We expected this. Every barbecue at our house went off without a hitch because Mom was a master in the kitchen and we knew to stay out of her way until she called for us. Then we just did as we were told.
The sounds of a working kitchen were heard through the screen door as a cool breeze whistled through the willow. It washed over us and we savored its caress.


Blogger Fox In Detox said...

I love summer memories. I also love the smell of cherry tobacco and cut grass. You should smoke a pipe and mow my lawn... yea, that sounds oddly like the ticket!

8:39 AM, July 03, 2008  

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