Summer Snapshot

Sitting in Bryant Park the other day, I was blinded by the sea of pasty white flesh.  Shirtless elderly men, waiting for their turns at the bocce courts, straddled the lawn chairs backwards, the wide expanses of their wrinkled backs exposed to the sun.  Business women lounged in their lacy camisoles, but only after carefully folding their suit jackets over the backs of a nearby vacant chairs.

As I scanned the crowd, my eyes came to rest upon an unassuming woman I’d place in her early sixties.  She had close-cropped gray hair and wore a soft beige, sleeveless jersey dress, the color nearly indistinguishable from that of her exposed arms.  The sleeves of her beige sweater encircled her waist.  Demure drop earrings and a shiny metal watch were the only jewelry she wore.

She had commandeered a whole section of chairs.  In addition to the one supporting her beige-clad rump, she’d lined up two more chairs to support her outstretched legs and bare feet.  An overturned beige Sak purse occupied the chair to her left.  She absentmindedly rifled through the spilled contents in search of something elusive, but not important enough to demand her full attention.  To her right, a pair of beige sandals rested in the shadow of yet another chair.

Perched just above the curve on her aquiline nose sat a pair of photo-gray glasses, dark in the afternoon sun.  Despite their protection, the woman still squinted against the bright light as she read the newspaper in her hand.  She ‘d already finished the arts section and had folded herself a newspaper cap, which she wore on her head at a rakish angle.

Every now and again, the soft breeze jostled the the canopy of trees above me, showering me with a cascade of tiny petals and pollen.   As if the breeze somehow contained some silent cue, the inhabitants of the park all tilted their heads back in unison, a communal worship of the sun.  I let my shoulders sink, my head loll, and wondered at the bright red backs of my eyelids.

I don’t care how hot it is.  I never want summer to end.


  1. I love summer days like that one. Unfortunately, I have just had the “oh my god, when will this heat end, and what is that smell” days so far.

  2. I used to work up by St. Pat’s cathedral at Rockefeller Center and in summer for lunch I’d sometimes sit on the steps at the cathedral, with a drink, and people watch. There was this one, really flamboyant older guy I saw regularly who was around 80 years old and always wore a peacock blue, 3 piece suit, with hat and satin cravat and carried a cane. He’d go into the Cathedral then come out again a few minutes later adjusting his cravat. I always wanted to know just what that dude did in there that required adjustment. He was like Quentin Crisp’s younger more alive brother.

    I agree though. Summer needs to last all year. In fact, up here, it needs to START. This summer’s been painfully wet and stormy and gray. Pity me.

    1. I can’t walk by that church and not look in the grate for a spoon and a dented tin can. That’s only going to make sense if you’re a Tom Robbins fan. Maybe not even then.

  3. Yes, yes, and yes. I get depressed just considering that July is almost over. I hold tight with with my sweaty little paws! Please don’t go, summer!

  4. It’s true — once a woman enters her Wise Crone Years, she does what she wants, takes as many chairs as she wants and basically says “Fuck you, world, I’m taking up space!”

  5. you have nailed that wonderful summertime feeling! i feel exactly the same way. i don’t care how hot it is. winter drags on forever and ever, and then summer passes in an instant. i don’t like it one bit. i keep telling myself i need to follow summer all around the world or at least move someplace where winter is practically non-existent.

    plus i learned two new execllent words here: aquiline and rakish. bravo and thank you!

  6. Beautiful prose Elly! You painted quite the scene and I could see the woman perfectly. However, I flippin hate summer. The only good thing about it is swimming in the lake, and since I haven’t done much of that this year, summer needs to go!! Which explains why, once I’m rich I’m totally moving north. Way north.


    1. I assume that with your tremendous wealth you will then flee to the south when that winter shit rolls in. I don’t know how people survive in Canada. Truly.

  7. OR.. Summer, Sumner, Gordon Sumner.
    God almighty I’ve got to get off this Police thing.
    Anyway, it’s like I was sitting next to you wearing my tube socks and soaking up your sun, your super awesome descriptive powers and good grammar.
    Maybe I actually WAS sitting next to you but you didn’t know it.

    1. Well said! At least the Gordon part. If that was you sitting next to me, I encourage you to stop trying to use the cardboard sleeve from a discarded coffee cup as a megaphone and preaching to my big toe. My big toe is Buddhist and doesn’t want to change.

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