Thursday, July 27, 2017

Summer in the City

Summer has arrived on my balcony with the magic of my first moonflower blooming.

Just after July 4th, I did a double take when a friend - unhappy about July's heat - tried to cheer herself up, saying, "Summer is halfway over already!"

Clearly she's the type who measures Summer by Memorial to Labor Day parameters rather than by its feel. Granted, we're on the other side of the solstice and losing a little light every evening, but you can't convince me summer is half over already.

Even technically speaking (not my strong suit), we're just over a month into a three-month season, so the way I see it, we've got plenty of summer left to savor.

Just this morning, we'd been walking down by the river and spotted a couple setting up a hammock by the water's edge. When we walked past them after putting our legs in the water, the hammock was zipped shut on top and limbs were poking out on several sides. We didn't know what was going on inside the hammock, but we had a pretty good guess: summer shenanigans.

Just the kind of thing that should accompany moonflowers, nearly daily dunks in the river and the bounty of the season.

The latter was on full display on the menu at Dutch & Co., where the owner greeted us and commented on the Miramar show at Sub Rosa we'd all attended last week.

"That was just magical, wasn't it?" she mused before marveling at the cool things that go in in Richmond when you're not paying attention (or, as is often the case with restaurant types, when you're working). It was indeed a glorious experience.

And while tonight's lacked the dulcet tones of live music, the meal was superb, beginning with a special of a fried soft shell crab posed in mid-dance over a bowl of chilled corn bisque, slurped while sipping Mont Gravet Rose.

A neighborhood couple sat down next to us at the bar and we joked about people who need the privacy of sitting at a table. Not us, not them, we laughed. But their conversation once they turned back to each other centered entirely around their jobs and employers, resulting in boring work-speak for hours.

Don't call it a retreat, call it a workshop if you want corporate to pay for it. Don't take this wrong, but here's how you should handle that situation with an employee next time. Have you ever had to put together a report you knew no one would read?

While I'm inclined to think that food this good deserves more interesting subject matter, I also know that everyone's idea of sparkling conversation is different.

A favorite server came over to talk beach trips and before long, we were trading favorite places to eat when we're on the Outer Banks. I always appreciate hearing about places on the bypass, because I seldom discover them on my own.

Good-sized Ruby Salt oysters from the eastern shore provided the same salty mouthfeel as the waves that had smacked us in the face on our Sandbridge outing Monday. My date, who'd only had his first Old Salt a few weeks back, is showing great promise as a fellow oyster hound.

Even better, rather than a discussion of work while we devoured his mahi mahi with summer tomatoes, we took turns answering questions from a New York Times article explaining how the questions and answers are meant to encourage self-disclosure because mutual vulnerability fosters closeness.

You also get to hear some really great stories.

We traded answers right through a chocolate semifreddo with a mound of blackberries that managed to feel both indulgent and light as summer at the same time before taking the rest of the questions elsewhere to answer while listening to the Hues Corporation, the Chi-Lites and the Bluenotes.

What was interesting was that the 36 questions are meant to be asked in order and we didn't always do that, yet we managed to uncover all kinds of revelations we'd never have likely gotten to without the questions.

It was also impossible not to acknowledge that we might have answered some questions very differently 20 years ago.

Because what are the long days and warm nights of summer for if not to enjoy leisurely meals and outings while getting to know someone?

The way this optimist sees it, I've got months of summer magic and moonflowers left.

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