Everybody was complaining about summer.
After a painful several months – much of it spent in bed – I welcomed the summer by taking to the verandah.
Colourful cushions, simple wood furniture and time-worn rugs created a homey feel.
A verandah is a place for serious summer reading….
Or some serious hanging out….
In the nearby garden, sometimes it rained and hailed and the wind was crazy.
But flowers bloomed everywhere.
The air was fresh.
Family and friends came to visit.
Some invited themselves, which I loved.
“How are you coping these days?”
“I’ve taken to the verandah,” I replied.
“I’m coming to visit!”
It was the summer of the verandah. Of kindness and affection. Laughter and quiet moments.
My editor Tim, returning home to South Africa, spent most of his last week in Canada with our family. He held court on the verandah like an eminence grise, saying wise, cryptic and funny things to everyone.
Some people wondered how he’d handle returning to a country which he left decades ago. Tim’s enigmatic reply: “Did I mention I’ll have the use of a heated swimming pool?”
“Long way to go for a heated swimming pool,” we laughed.
Of course, one should always feed one’s visitors. Despite one’s lack of cooking talent.
“You are the best cook I’ve ever met,” Tim declared, straight-faced, to loud laughter.
I swatted him with my dinner napkin. He complained – theatrically – of “the abuses I suffer in your home”.
We alternated between joking, serious talk and companionable silence. If tears were hovering, we didn’t let them show. This man has been a stalwart friend to me through life’s challenging times and I shall miss him.
Marilyn visited next. Marilyn’s the doyenne of tea (See Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Teas.) She kindly admired my floral arrangement and I wisely served a cold lunch… no cooking required.
“I caught that salmon, smoked it and sliced it,” I lied.
“Well done,” she praised, playing along.
Seriously, though: the lettuce, tomatoes and red currants came from our garden.
Longtime friend Dale arrived late one night, on her way back home from visiting family out west. I made breakfast, the only thing I cook consistently well, and we caught up on family news.
Marie, who lives way up north, took an evening break from her role in an important cross-country hearing. My husband cooked supper that day, as he did for my childhood friend, Angela and her family. Wonderful occasions.
Jacqui dropped in and lucked into one of the nicest dishes I made this summer.
“But this is GOOD!” she declared.
“Don’t tell anyone!” I pleaded. “You’ll ruin my reputation.”
Anthony Trollope once asked: “What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book and a cup of coffee?”
My answer: “A verandah, a garden, and loved ones to share them with.”
Dedicated, with a grateful heart, to my caring family and friends… and everyone who appreciates a verandah.