Summer. A season of hope and promise and love. It has a way of bringing people together, and often. You can feel her presence right around the time May gives way to June. Right of passage we all expect and welcome. The first break of dawn when you feel the warmth push through your window screen and up against your skin. She’s back again. Home again.
There are few things I look forward to more than summer. It’s hard to mask her ability to make all of us smile. I watch people and set my watch to their mood shifts that come and go with the seasons. For the few short months of summer we all like ourselves just a little bit better. A little bit more.
I met my wife one October years ago when winter was making an unexpected appearance. Too hard. Too soon. I fell in love with Wendy during the shifts in weather that came for the better part of that year but it was in summer that I really saw all her beauty on display.
Everybody seems to appear from behind locked castle doors when summer shows up, and that was no different for us back then. The longer and warmer days meant more adventures and time spent outside and together. I shared my love for the markets and new seasonal foods with her and she shared her love for the outdoors.
A typical Saturday morning back then was spent with a coffee in hand and wandering the outdoor market near our new place. We’d taste test the local farmer’s pride and joy and then sit out back of our little house with the hot sun’s glare directed right on us.
As summer’s went on we’d often grab fresh fruit from the same local market vendors and find a tranquil spot to sit. Otherwise, we’d find a cottage or retreat to a beach or conservation lake nearby. She always loved watermelon in particular. We don’t share the love of all fruits, but watermelon was certainly one we both enjoyed. Especially together. Always together.
Often on the hottest days we’d escape to some small piece of shade on our yard with a cocktail and a bowl full of watermelon cubes. She liked it just the way it was, I liked it with a splash of olive oil and salt and pepper. Either way, we liked it with present company and the summer heat all over us.
On weekend mornings these days I’ll wake up too early and stare at my wife staring down her dreams. I’ll look over her shoulder to the window facing out back and see the bright sun in her familiar morning position. I know from that look and the time flashing on the clock that it’s probably hot outside. Summer outside.
We’ll wake up on days off and head for a drive on a with the windows down and that warm air running up my outstretched arm. We’ll have the music on and and visors down and drive wherever the warm summer sun takes us. We’ll come back hot and hungry and thirsty and I’ll make something like this.
When the day is long and the sun is perched on that white cloud in the sky overhead, I make this for us. A watermelon salad loaded with flavours and summertime ingredients and a refreshing watermelon margarita that we empty in seconds.
I’ll fill a blender and then a pitcher full of this boozy refresher and we’ll sit out back and drink to the opportunities and sky full of promise. It goes down quickly and easy. It cools you down from the inside out and in again.
As summer comes and goes, I appreciate her more and more. All that she brings. Hot and bright days, and reunions with friends we’ve lost since these same days this time last year. Locked away, hidden away. It brings us together where we celebrate everything around us.
I hope she stays a bit longer this year. This season. I hope the trail of memories left behind is long and deep. And when she leaves I’ll be waiting for that familiar warm push of air through the window screen and welcome her back. Home. So we can do this all over again.
From my kitchen to yours, happy eating!
Grilled Watermelon Salad
- 1/4 cup finely diced shallots
- 1 tsp. peeled and grated ginger
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic syrup
- 10 large watermelon cubes (each about 1/2 inch)
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tbsp. mint, thinly sliced
- salt & pepper to taste
- To make the dressing, combine shallots, ginger, sugar and olive oil. Whisk and set aside.
- Grill each side of a watermelon on the grill over medium-high heat. Grill for two minutes per side and until grill marks appear.
- To make salad, arrange five watermelon cubes on each plate. Sprinkle with feta and mint and and pour dressing over top. Drizzle with balsamic syrup and season with sea salt and pepper.