Summer officially has started in my world now. It isn’t the seven chigger bites judiciously placed where I can’t scratch them at work, though I do have those. Nor is it the sudden spike in my electric bill as I try to refrigerate my way out of July in Kansas. The lightning bugs have been around for a few weeks, and the junebugs already have latched onto my screen door. I’ve heard three “Hot, ain’t-it’s” down at the grocery store, and just today I heard my second, “It’s like a steam bath out there” as I headed out of the drugstore.
Nope, while all those occurrences provide evidence of summer, it wasn’t until last night that I knew for a natural fact that summer truly had arrived: a Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato sandwich with tomatoes fresh from the garden.
Ma-a-an, life doesn’t get a lot sweeter than that. The bacon was from piggies raised right in the neighborhood, the bread was from a bakery 30 miles down the road, the lettuce was … well, it was just lettuce (mine bolted about a month ago), as was the dependable Hellman’s mayo. Put them all together, however, and my taste buds broke out into a robust version of “Roll out those lazy, hazy crazy days of sum-merrrrr…” and did a little jitterbug on my palate.
My neighbors and I had a brief disagreement over whether the tomatoes were the Black Krims or the Cherokee Purples, since we had lost track of what we’d picked (my vote still is on the Krims). We discussed briefly the perfect wine accompaniment for BLTs and agreed that it was chardonnay and a nice malbec, since that’s what was already opened. And then … we dug in.
I instantly was transported a few decades back to my family’s kitchen in rural Oklahoma, where as a child I learned that BLT is an acronym for “Food Fit for Royalty,” despite the mismatched letters. As I ate, I thought for a nanosecond that the mayonnaise I put on this sandwich probably put me several hundred calories over my daily limit. A consideration about maybe not having that second half a sandwich briefly flitted across my brain, but I swatted it down instantly.
This wasn’t a meal, it was a ritual. Realistically speaking, how many more first-BLT-of-summer’s do I have left in me? Even if it’s 30 or more, shouldn’t I give everything I have to the observation of this ancient rite?
Darn tootin’ I should. And, ooh-baby, did I.
And after our sandwiches, Nancy’s dessert sealed the deal on summer: Fresh-off-the-tree peaches, sliced and covered with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, topped with blackberries the size of kiwi fruit, picked a couple of hours earlier.
Take me now, Lord. I’ve already been to Heaven.
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