Sunday, June 13, 2021

Life & Style

Sensing Summer

He straightens his back and looks intent as he says, “I am good, okay? I am not about wolf.”

I’m thinking he’s all about wolf. His accent is as thick as the smell of his cologne. As he speaks I also hear the band across the patio gearing up to play another song. People are in groups talking. Their voices melt into each other and sound like one low-pitched rumble pierced at times by a high-pitched laugh. It’s a Friday and we’re all outside as sounds swirl and intermingle in the evening air. A waitress asks if anyone wants more drinks at a nearby table. A band member announces the name of the next song.

My glass is sweating in my hand. I can feel humidity creeping across the lawn, down the stone stairs, and onto my skin. The air is so saturated it seems as if one can suspend oneself in it, like swimming in salt water. A breeze ambles by. At this time of year, breezes, unless accompanied by a thunderstorm, feel almost like an afterthought. They don’t help with the humidity and don’t do much to cool one off.

Mixed with the scent of the Wolfman’s cologne is the scent of summer flowers and also of the sea. If I turn my head slightly I get a different amount of each. Closer to the stage there is the unnatural floral reek of women’s perfume.

I raise my sweaty glass and take a sip of raspberry martini. For the moment it’s icy cold, but it won’t be long before it warms to near-outside temperature and becomes undrinkable. I should have asked for a cup of ice.

As I turn from the Wolfman to scan the crowd for our waitress, I spy a woman in what looks to be baby doll pajamas sitting at the bar. Does she realize she’s in her pajamas? Does she want to be in her pajamas? She’s leaning toward a man so far it seems as if she’s going to fall off her stool. The man smiles, leaves a bill on the bar, and picks up his drink. A water droplet runs from the glass rim to his finger. It falls as he turns from the woman and walks away.

I can’t spy my waitress and the Wolfman is talking about himself. He asks me about myself and I answer but am hardly aware of what I’ve said even right after I’ve said it. I’m too busy looking around at everyone in their clustered pods standing, dancing, talking, leaning, sipping at drinks. I’m too consumed by the sound of the music rising over the crowd. Play that funky music, just like the song says. I’m fixated by the smell of flowers, real and fake, carried by the languid breeze. I want to focus on the taste of cool raspberry before it gets too warm and I’m compelled to put my half-full glass down in a water ring that formed under it ages ago and still hasn’t evaporated.

This is as summer as summer gets.

I leave with the group I came with, stepping onto smooth stone steps on the way out. The crowd is starting to thin and the band members are gathering up their equipment. Piped-in music plays a current song. The taste of raspberry has long left, replaced by the taste of watered-down ice. As I go toward the car, the smell of summer garden is gone, too, replaced by the smell of asphalt still steamy from the afternoon heat.

This is the time of year when I’m outside as much as possible, taking it all in before the warm breeze changes to chilly wind. Summer here is more than just a season, it’s a sensory feast. And if one listens closely, one may even hear the howl of a wolf.

Juliana Gribbins is a writer who believes that absurdity is the spice of life. Her book Date Expectations is winner of the 2017 Independent Press Awards, Humor Category and winner of the 2016 IPPY silver medal for humor. Write to her at Read more of her columns at

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