Suggested Song: All Summer Long, The Beach Boys Suggested Drink: Watermelon agua fresca (watermelon, water, lime, mint)
It could be a creative block or simple summer malaise, but I am uninspired to write. Poetic justice indeed, after my last piece on breaking through our mental gridlocks. But it is August, and August means easy days and a much-needed pause for all, especially here in Europe. I will consider that a justification for my barren imagination.
This is my favorite summer month in Aix-en-Provence. The high heat demands a certain measured pace: early morning treks to the market, light lunches of salad and melon, shutters pulled against the afternoon sun, siestas by 3 and revitalizing cocktails at 6. Sobriety can be a challenge in this small dense city, rich with cafes and brasseries and friends who enjoy la bonne vie alfresco.
I’ll cede productivity in August, but not the quest for a perfect summer day. How do others squeeze the most out of these dwindling moments of languid abandon? Here are 4 top-of-mind suggestions from my personal playbook.
something fresh today, not something simply available at the megamart. What’s the sense in suffering through bland imports from foreign lands when local summer produce is ripe, plentiful and lusciously delicious? In Provence the fruits and melons are amazing at the moment. Honey bees swarm the market stalls of cantaloupe, watermelon and strawberries, drawn by their sinfully sweet and fragrant aromas. I miss the fresh sweet corn and plump blue and black berries from my childhood Pennsylvania in August. Despite their love and respect for all things culinary, the French just don’t get corn-on-the-cob, which is their great loss and mine too at this time of the year.
a fresh watermelon agua fresca for tonight’s evening cocktail, and repeat after me: life is good, life is good, life is really really good. Here’s the recipe: 4 cups of diced local watermelon with 1/2 cup of water blended until smooth, then add about 1/3 cup of white sugar (more or less per your taste) and swirle. In each glass place a slice of lime and 3-4 mint leaves, fill with ice cubes and then the watermelon blend, stir. For those of you running on high octane a splash of good tequila will give it some zing. Life is good, life is really really good.
with family and friends, forget work and all other worldly concerns, and find your zen place today. Everyone gets a pass for slacking in August, even those clocking in. Invite your kids (or parents or friends or friendly neighbors) out for a Coke or gelato cone and reconnect, school obligations will make that much more difficult starting in September. It can be impossible to truly chill when work commitments and homework assignments are haunting those dark corners of the mind. Now’s the time, go!
to your favorite summertime song now, something to put you in that top down and flip flops on mood. Number one on my list would have to be All Summer Long by the Beach Boys, although White Sandy Beach by IZ is a very, very close second. It plants me by that island palm tree place instantly, beautifully, longingly. Is there a more beautiful love song to the splendor of summer? What is your favorite, I’m always looking for great ideas.
So there you have it; Bill’s 4 tips for the perfect August day, today: eat and drink well from our nature mother’s warm summer bounty, relax with those who matter, and put on some great summer tunes. Now give me your 4 tips, okay? I’ll be waiting, with my watermelon cooler.
Bill Magill Aix-en-Provence