Maybe you’re already able to easily transport yourself to the relish the gifts of summer. I’m sure someone somewhere has already said that summer is a state of mind. If I had to only rely on my childhood memories of summer, I would remember 7am swim practices at the local pool, eating dozens of plums off my friend’s backyard tree while lounging more by her pool and talking about our latest crushes, and practicing my writing on (insert deep sigh here) an electric typewriter.

But as I get older, I find myself relying more on summer talismans: anything whose presence exercises a remarkable or powerful influence on human feelings or actions. These include:

  • a pair of colorful flip-flops with painted toenails.
  • popsicles to offer any child that walks through the door.
  • a basket of reading and writing materials by my deck chair to go with my glass of iced tea.
  • Susan Branch’s The Summer Book.

Have you discovered Susan Branch yet? I spent time with her work today and it truly inspired me to create works of art in my summer meals. Not over the top, buy 14 new ingredients and still not have it look like the picture recipes, but recipes and inspirations filled with little touches to make them special. Here’s a copy of my favorite. And in case you didn’t know, Susan Branch illustrates every one of her recipe pages, including the text. Blogging format hardly does it justice.

Fisher Farm Picnic Squash Salad

8 cups very thinly sliced squash, any kind (yellow crookneck and green zucchini=pretty!)

2 cups Paul Newman’s salad dressing

20 fresh nasturtium blossoms

2 Tablespoons fresh herb of choice (optional)

Put the squash into a large bowl. Bring salad dressing to near boil ~ pour over squash, toss lightly & then chill. Before serving toss again ~ pour off extra dressing. Toss again with fresh herbs & top with fresh nasturtiums.

Yes, nasturtiums are edible if you haven’t watered them with Miracle Grow. On the recipe page, she encircles the text with a nasturtium vine wreath and includes a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “Earth laughs in flowers.” I find myself emotionally responding to these darling and simple beauties.

How about you? What are your summer childhood memories? Have you been able to hang on to the specialness of summer as you’ve grown? What simple summer delights do you treasure? Please leave a comment and let us know.