Hanging on to Summer

August slips into position with a sense of what was and what’s to come.

August slips into position with a sense of what was and what’s to come. A month many of us wish to hang on to, it enchants like a juicy, lime-spritzed outdoor cocktail hour. Nibbling on goodies, gazing at late-summer blooms in golden twilight, and catching up on the day’s highlights with friends and family, no one wants to go inside for dinner. Not yet. Let’s stay outdoors and chat, and take in that early-evening glow just a bit longer. 

Please let summer linger. 

August also comes with silk-wrapped ears of crisp Michigan corn. I can’t serve corn without hearing my mother ask me to run to Schumachers’ farm for a dozen ears. As a teen, I’d drive down the country road on a routine corn-buying mission, hoping there were still good pickings at the vegetable stand. Like Mom, I can’t serve corn without placing each just-boiled steaming ear on a pretty tea towel atop a large platter, and then covering them so they stay warm. (We also rolled our corn in butter, skipping the more proper use-a-knife style.) 

Another way August arrives is on a hearty green vine in the way of plump tomatoes. The herb garden is awash in every shade of green, and basil’s large, healthy leaves soon will join the ripe tomatoes in a delicious August salad. 

In loose, flowing clothes, we welcome August to our porch where, barefoot, we sip something cold while watching the condensation collect quickly along the glass. Lightning bugs dazzle, while a few leaves glide sloooowly to the ground. “Not yet, leaves! Please don’t disappear just yet.”  

While the air conditioner keeps our home a constant cool during these dog days of summer, I bet I’m not alone when I admit that I don’t mind sticky, stifling air. Growing up, my parents would NOT purchase an air conditioner. Dad didn’t want to hear it blasting away outdoors (the neighbor’s constant BLOOOOOOOWWW was bad enough), suppressing the sounds of August that ringed our patio. 

My parents were window people. They preferred to live among cricket sounds and fresh breezes that made our curtains dance. Playing cards late into the evening, Mom would talk of window screens that needed washing or repair (“the mosquitoes will get in!”). The cards would stick to each other — August’s humid side — and a can of OFF! mosquito repellant was always nearby.   

I’ve got two sons (who, incidentally, say they can’t live without air conditioning), so the eighth month of the year also has that back-to-school sensibility. Knee-deep in their college years, August is when we take stock of sheets and towels, and all the necessities of college life. There’s a get-back-down-to-business atti-tude. Dust your desk, clean your drawers, sharpen your pencils, and get organized for what’s to come. 

And yet, while we prepare for the future, our heart isn’t quite in it, because August continues to beckon with summer’s most cherished attributes. September, too, still tries to wear the lightness of summer, doesn’t it? 

So this issue sends summer off sloooowly,  encouraging you to embrace its “day in the sun.” Meet a busy Farmington Hills family that adores their home’s new light-filled aura, thanks to their inventive designer. In Clarkston, we  tour a fascinating  renovation, and head out to the pasture — amid goats, dogs, rabbits,
and a horse — to take a look at life in a delightful new-country farmhouse. We shake up an end-of-summer cocktail made of a resort gardener’s favorite bounty. We inspire you to plant some bright-white anemones that provide a pretty summer finale and take us into fall. Our cover feature spotlights a family and their designer who made the most of their windows so sun-dappled waters are easy to see. We also visit some paint specialists who share their favorite colors for painting walls the color of sea and sky — a sure way to evoke summer year-round.  

Finally, because there’s just no ignoring the school bell, we round up some of our favorite dorm-room and homework essentials. But don’t weigh yourself down with too many serious thoughts. Not yet.