The crisp is less crisp two nights later; we have the last of the season’s rhubarb, brought by Kerro from his garden from Michigan, and we are ready to make Strawberry Rhubarb crisp on Sunday night until we discover one container of strawberries is moldy and the other has about eight berries in it. Improvising, which is what theatre friends do, Kerro goes out to our back steps and fills a measuring cup with blueberries, round and fat and purple, from the bushes Mom planted about ten years ago. I find some raspberries; we discover, in the back ofhe fridge, half a carton of blueberries I had bought last week—wrinkled, but in a crisp, who will care? I mix the oats and flour and brown sugar and cinnamon. We borrow vanilla extract from our neighbors, stir in melted butter. Kerro preps the berries and we bake the crisp. Before dinner, I put the metal bowl and the bottom of our immersion blender into the freezer, so after we finish the meal, I can make homemade whipped cream. It’s then that my sister announces that she loathes rhubarb and declines our offer of dessert. Her vehemence does not dim our enjoyment of our creation. As we clean up, we find a tin foil cover for the baking dish and tuck it in to the pantry fridge.
Yesterday we do jigsaw puzzles; I write a lot. In a desultory way, I begin to collect my belongings because I head back home and back to work on Wednesday. Today, my last real day of summer, Kerro leaves us for Michigan. I nurse a migraine, grumpy about my son’s undone summer reading, cross at my own grumpiness, unproductive, restless. But we walk the dogs all together—my son, husband and I. It is lovely by the lake, clear and warm, the sun golden. My mood improves. I light the citronella candles, one of my favorite rituals this summer. We eat dinner on the porch. After supper, Atticus and I settle into our cavernous porch swing; he reads The Sign of the Beaver and I read my novel, Modern Lovers. Seth jumpstarts his mini van with my car and we talk about how my battery doesn’t lose any power by helping his recharge—like candlelight, like love. It is cooler, even this early in August, so we move inside to finish up the crisp. I do the dishes and Seth warms up the crisp in cut glass bowls from my grandmother’s era. Atticus chooses mint-chip ice cream over fruit, claiming, “I’m with Aunt Lee on this one; the rhubarb is sort of overpowering,” but as I savor the mingled flavor of fruit and lemon zest and vanilla ice cream, I know I am tasting summer.