A Perfect Sunday

Sometimes a summer day really hits all the marks.

The temperature was under seventy degrees when we got up, so Doug was agreeable to some yard work. The weeping cherry tree, so lachrymose that parts of it had died, was in need of a good trimming, which we effected by means of ladder, loppers, extension poles, and leaning out of second story windows. Really. Alas, I did not take pictures.

Happy with the result of that, no bones broken and the temperature now in the very pleasant seventies, I settled on the deck for my usual Sunday observance: the Church of the New York Times. Having already read most of the front section’s news Saturday online, I breezed through that, skimmed the Sports section – hey! an article about Jim Harbaugh! – and made my way through style, opinion, arts, business, travel, and magazine, to the real and only reason I subscribe to the Sunday Print Edition: the puzzles. When they announced they were redesigning the magazine, dudgeon was high among puzzle-lovers. “Put down your pitchforks,” said the New York Times (how did they know?) and treated us to a batch of extra puzzles without harming the beloved crossword. A soft pencil, a cup of tea, and I was set for the afternoon. Yes, I can do the crossword in pen, but I need a pencil for the seven-box Ken Ken and the acrostic, and I like all the writing to match.

When all the boxes and blanks were filled in, I weeded the herb garden. This sounds like work, but it consisted of kneeling on a cushion and running my hands through lavender, thyme, lemon balm, sage, and three kinds of basil, tugging out bits of grass, oxalis, and purslane that had wound their way in among them. I’m told purslane can be used as a salad green, but not by me. Too bitter.

After this I could have just sat around all evening sniffing my hands. Yum. Instead, I cut up some tomatoes and basil, laced them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and tossed them into some pasta. We ate outside, on the deck, as the fireflies came out and a sense of enormous peace wafted over the yard and settled around my shoulders.

Simple enough. What made this a perfect day? The summer light, the temperature, the quality of the air? The balance between physical and mental activity? Was it having things to do that I thought worthwhile, but that didn’t really matter if I messed them up? Not all perfect days are alike, and often the intention to have one is not enough. Nevertheless, as you see, I am writing this one down, in case it turns out to hold any useful instructions for my future self.

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