Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

It’s Too Early To Ease Grip On Summer

I vowed my first day in the new Mazda last spring that no dirt would darken that virgin minivan.

But after summer started, the only clean water to hit the car fell from the clouds.

I know Labor Day weekend is the time to strip summer slime from the family funmobile. But I’m not sure I’m ready.

If I scrub the blackberry stains from the beige carpet, will my memory fade of my week in Seattle with my 16-year-old daughter?

She and I wanted to save all our money for shopping that week, so we camped in a tight tent in a steady downpour. It could have been hell; instead, it became a contest of who could complain the least. I lost, and she got two new dresses.

We had so much fun, I couldn’t deny her request for a pint of plump blackberries to eat on the ride home.

I moaned when I saw the bruiselike stains they had left in the car. But now, my heart doubles in size when I see those stains.

My daughter is nearing adulthood, and special times with her are fewer, shorter than I want. So, the stains stay.

Turning the van’s floor mats to their proper side may be less traumatic for me. We flipped them rubber-side-up in June to save them from the Utah mud that slithered from our shoes after rain canceled the Pearl Jam concert we had tickets for.

Our misery disappeared that night with warm clothes. But the feeling that their dad is the coolest just for having arranged the trip will stick with my two daughters for years. They don’t have to see the mud to remember Utah.

The black bike grease on the van’s velvety seats and sweet-roll crumbs in the seams will be the toughest to remove. They’re evidence that my 14-year-old daughter and I awoke most summer mornings at 4:30 a.m. to train our bodies to work for us.

While she swam for three hours in Spokane, I ran and biked, inspired by her dedication. Afterwards, we feasted on sweet rolls and compared workout horror stories.

I’ve savored few moments more.

I’m not ready to let go of summer. Maybe I’ll clean the car next month …

A reason to keep going

Coeur d’Alene’s Margaret Mason found a way to stay connected with her husband after he died last year. She planted a garden, as he had for most of the 50 years they had been married.

This garden was her first and rapidly grew into a jungle. “I got in the habit of yanking up a squash plant every time I went out there until I was down to one,” Margaret wrote in answer to my search for garden stories.

Her bean bushes toppled over. But Margaret pounded in metal fence posts and strung cords between them for a trellis. The work was hard but fulfilling.

Now, Margaret has fresh vegetables to share with her neighbors, and she can’t wait for the next planting season.

Splash of color

The Post Falls Arts Commission is smart to cultivate arts supporters of the future. Kids flocked to summer art classes, so the commission is offering more for the fall.

Wednesday watercolor classes will start Sept. 13 for kids of all ages and cost $30. Thursday drawing classes will cost $25. Artist Terri Austin-Beech, the teacher kids loved this summer, will be back for the fall.

Space is limited. Call 773-2033.

Award winner

A friend of mine won a series of ballroom-dancing lessons years ago, which opened a whole new world to her. She can’t hear Glenn Miller anymore without moving her feet.

She also won a bike in a raffle and had to pressure the Western Washington vendor to give it to her.

What have you won lately that’s too good to keep to yourself? Crow about your jackpot to Cynthia Taggart, “Close to Home,” 608 Northwest Blvd., Suite 200, Coeur d’Alene 83814; or send a fax to 765-7149 or call 765-7128.

, DataTimes