No Sugar Added: A time for chipmunks and barbecues

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Saturday night, I turned on the television for some pre-slumber entertainment, and inadvertently ended up watching the last half hour of “Silence of the Lambs,” the movie about Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the uber-creepy cannibal.

Sunday morning, I awakened to sunshine and the sweet sounds of chirping birds. I eventually made my way down to our kitchen, where I proceeded to put on the kettle, and opened the door to find one of our cats with a chubby, adorable (and dead) chipmunk in her mouth.

A thoughtful Father’s Day gift for me, no doubt.

My bedtime fear of being haunted by dreams of Anthony Hopkins munching on someone’s innards never came to fruition. Instead, I received the real-life treat of a disemboweled rodent on my doorstep.

Ahhhh, summertime.

Summer brings with it many delights and surprises – many of which we forget, until the temperatures begin to rise.

Admittedly, although I find wonder in all seasons, summer is not my all-time favorite; autumn is my favorite (although one might argue that has something to do with my October birthday, and an inexplicable passion for Halloween, pumpkins, and the color orange).

In spite of my love affair with the fall, when it’s 72 degrees and the sky is blue and dotted with wispy, storybook clouds, I do love summer. And let’s be real here: Maine knows how to do summer. You don’t want to be anywhere else after Memorial Day.

The onset of summer always makes me wax nostalgic.

I put my toes in the warm sand and dip them into the frothy edge of the Atlantic, and I’m transported back to the 1970s, and the globe-shaped, sunshine yellow Panasonic radio I cherished as a teenager: a three-dimensional version of the iconic “smiley face” on a small silver chain – without the actual face. Just a few dials and some holes where the sound emerged. I remember the voice of the New York City radio deejay who would, every hour on the hour, in a deeply sexy radio voice, command his listeners to, “Roll. Your. Bod.”

Of course, it was imperative that one “rolled one’s bod” frequently in the ’70s, since we were slathered in an ineffectual veil of Hawaiian Tropic SPF 4 body oil. We smelled like pina coladas, skin cancer was not on the radar screen, and life admittedly felt like a whole lot more fun.

After the chipmunk incident, I baked some berry-loaded muffins for my cherubs. Yes, I know, this sounds out of character for me, but really, it’s not. I just need to be in a very special mood. The recipe comes from a beloved Cape Cod cookbook, complete with mouthwatering photographs of the food and the seaside surroundings.

I bake those muffins and decades of vacations come flooding back to me – kids on the beach in diapers, ice cream cones in the hands of sleepy toddlers, and outdoor showers (with hot water) imbued with the happiness that comes with looking up at the stars while sipping a glass of pinot noir and washing away the days’ sand and saltiness – looking forward to another evening of beach-house bliss.

Summer is barbecues and the smell of freshly cut grass. It’s warm sand and watermelon juice dripping down your chin, raspberries fresh from the garden (not mine, but someone’s garden), open windows and doors, and the sounds of kids playing, plotting and planning – and green leaves, softly rustling. Big bowls of steamers and melted butter and lemonade. Thunderstorms and fireflies. And staying up. Late. No alarm clocks. Freedom. A little sliver of heaven on earth.

Magic.

I still remember the feeling of the soft cotton, violet-patterned white pajamas, and excitement of being allowed to sit out on the porch in them until it was nearly dark when I was a little girl. My kids and I cooked shish kabob on our old-fashioned (i.e. not gas-fueled) grill the other night, and the aroma made we wonder whether I was still 13.

Enjoy the sounds, sights and scents of summer – and allow those memories from days gone by to come flooding back.

Just keep the chipmunks away from the grill.

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No Sugar Added is Cape Elizabeth resident Sandi Amorello’s biweekly take on life, love, death, dating and single parenting. Get more of Sandi at irreverentwidow.com or contact her at sandi@irreverentwidow.com.

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