Summer’s Almost Gone

A romp through the last days of summer, spent briefly in Columbus and in Michigan. Featured: the prettiest cake I’ve ever baked and also, hilariously large ice cream cones.

Ruth sits out on a dock in west-central Michigan.

Ruth sits out on a dock in west-central Michigan.

As I sit in my living room with a chilly 50-degree breeze coming through my door, I am suddenly aware at how quickly summer seems to fade. For the most part, this is good — the 90 degrees of just a couple days ago really made my apartment uncomfortable, and goodness knows I love fall. Still, fall comes with responsibilities — with deadlines and teaching and more book than can ever possibly be read. And for a couple minutes, I want to think back to the end of summer. My mother and I arrived in Columbus on Monday a few weeks ago. I spent my first full day in the city in the kitchen, whipping up the prettiest cake I’ve ever made for a belated birthday celebration for Thomas, who turned 17 at the end of July, but at camp far away.

2013-08-27 thomas bday 29

Mykola, Ruth, Thomas and my mother.

It was high time we celebrated.

Conceived of as a berry tiramisu cake, with a mascarpone icing and lady fingers on the side.

Conceived of as a berry tiramisu cake, with a mascarpone icing and lady fingers on the side.

To add to the random and ever growing assortment of instruments in the house, Thomas’ main gift this year was a mandolin. Being at home also enabled me to finally meet Mykola, whose parents had been such wonderful hosts for Maki and me just a few weeks earlier. My parents were keen to welcome what they see as the family’s newest Buckeye.

Our boys.

Our boys.

The rest of my time in Columbus was devoted to various errands and getting my stuff ready to go. Ruth was kind enough to join me for the drive up to Ann Arbor, as we made our way north a couple days ahead of the family. This turned out to be a huge blessing, as this ended up being my first ever 2-day trip from Columbus to Ann Arbor, when a belt went out two hours into the drive, too late in the evening to have it repaired then. Ruth was excellent company for our unexpected adventure in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Various views: my car on the side of the highway; our Day's Inn; dinner at Bob Evan's; and dessert (Ruth) and beer at Fricker's -- where my huge Yuengling came out to only $2.42!

Various views: my car on the side of the highway; our Day’s Inn; dinner at Bob Evan’s; and dessert (Ruth) and beer at Fricker’s — where my huge Yuengling came out to only $2.42!

Luckily, the repairs were minor and finished by 10 am the next morning, at relatively minimal damage to the bank account. So Ruth and I headed onwards to Ann Arbor, where we enjoyed a couple meals and I started the process of moving back into my apartment. How nice it is to get started in the same place again — the first time I’ve spent consecutive years in the same place since high school! My mother turned up on Saturday morning of Labor Day Weekend — the next day — to take us over to Central/Western Michigan for a weekend of Whittington-family shenanigans at my grandmother’s cabin.

A wonderful place filled with so many childhood memories of summers, holidays, and long weekends.

A wonderful place filled with so many childhood memories of summers, holidays, and long weekends.

We arrived late afternoon (after parking cars in the yard for the football game), where we met my father, who had driven up with the boys, the Madison crew (Daniel, Lila, Lydia, and Kevin), who had driving in from Wisconsin for the weekend, as well as my aunt and uncle and my grandmother. Our first order of business was celebrating my mother’s birthday — this time with Aung Julie’s cake, a delicious heath-bar concoction.

2013-08-31 cake 8

The weekend also offered plenty of opportunity for just hanging out.

Chilling at the cabin.

Chilling at the cabin.

This, of course, would have been a lot more fun had I not spent the whole weekend in a histamine-fueled haze, tripped up on anti-histamines, leaving me grouchy and tired all weekend (I am really allergic to the carpet in the cabin). I hardly felt like I had a chance to talk to my siblings, which was sad, given how rarely we see each other. Sunday was devoted to water-bound pursuits.

Buckley's

Buckley’s Mountainside Canoes. Not sure where the mountains are, but was a nice afternoon!

Being out on the water gave my allergies a chance to subside for a while — by the end of the afternoon, I felt like I was at almost 75% — not too bad… All in all, a wonderful excursion.

Various views from the canoeing trip.

Various views from the canoeing trip.

That evening, we made our way to a local ice cream establishment, where we got THE BIGGEST ICE CREAM CONES I HAVE EVER SEEN. The best part? These are “kiddie” sized. Tasted like FREEDOM.

Seriously, have you ever seen so much ice cream in a "small" sized portion?!

Seriously, have you ever seen so much ice cream in a “small” sized portion?!

I am very proud to state that the Whittingtons performed really admirably on this challenge. Not only did all of us finish our cones, some of us (Lydia and I) were even called in as backup as Mykola struggled with his. Clearly he’s got a lot of work to do over the coming year to acclimate to Whittington ice cream habits. And alas, all too quickly, the weekend was over and it was time to head our separate ways. Though I was glad to be moving out of the allergy war zone, returning involved not just saying goodbye to siblings I now barely get to see, but also, the return to reality. And, in true form, I had multiple professor and student emails waiting for me when I got back. Still, there was time for one last cookout of summer with my neighbors, and a pleasant evening by the bonfire in the backyard. Complete with s’mores and other assorted goodies.

Around the flames

A wonderful addition to our First Street residence.

And indeed, with the warmest days fading away, and the fall seasonal allergies slowly with them, and the book lists and deadlines piling up, summer already seems about a hundred years ago.

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