When I was growing up, seasons were tied to the school year, not necessarily the weather. It could be hot and sunny on New Year’s or Christmas or cold in spring. (Yes, for Los Angelenos, 50’s is considered cold.) So for me, summer really started when school was out and we had summer vacation. Summer vacation meant more time outside. It stayed light later in the evening, and it just seemed like there were more hours in the day to play.
I am no longer tied to a school year and I note the seasons (such as they are in Los Angeles) by what’s happening in my garden. I know in December / January, the roses will all be cut back and in spring I start to see the first new blossoms. By mid-June, if I am lucky, the hydrangeas appear in all their glory. The puppies and I start to spend more time outside. I notice all of this and realize we are coming up on the summer solstice.
Summer Solstice is actually the longest day of the year and the shortest night. It marks the first day of summer and the start of the warmest season of the year. The rituals surrounding Summer Solstice date back to ancient time and Stonehenge. Some people get up at dawn to watch the sunrise. I would rather celebrate with an amazing dinner party, at home with friends.
This time of year, I think back to my childhood, about our summer dinners outdoors. Even though we lived in Beverly Hills, my Father grew his own tomatoes. This was way before it was considered hip to grow your own vegetables. Of course, I hated tomatoes, and thought it was weird and even a little embarrassing that we grew them in our backyard. Funny how things change.
These days, I love tomatoes and even pay extra for the delicious multi colored heirloom variety. My Father is definitely enjoying this moment. Now, summer means wet and juicy watermelon, tomatoes that really taste like tomatoes, berries you can’t stop eating and more ice cream (although in truth, ice cream is good even on the coldest day). Also, if we are lucky we are still enjoying the wild halibut that arrived in the market around May.
This party started outside in my garden for cocktails and appetizers. You’ll notice in the photos that my little Yorkie Princess is featured. She was not happy that her brother Moe got so much attention at the last party. So, this month, she gets lots of screen time.
Also, what you won’t see is that one guest forgot all about the dinner and never showed up and another arrived very sick and went home without eating or drinking anything. I simply rearranged the table, acted like there was nothing wrong, and the party continued.
After a leisurely cocktail hour that lasted close to two hours, we moved into the dining room for a more formal sit-down dinner and ended playfully with an abundance of desserts, including of course ice cream.