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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Summer Naps

By Silvia Uribe

One of the reasons that I love summer in Santa Barbara is because it is a feast for all of my senses. There's no other place where I've felt such delight just staying still, with my eyes closed, and discovering all of those little pleasures that one can easily miss with the business of our daily lives the rest of the year.

In the peacefulness of my room, just as I'm preparing to take my week long awaited naps, I know I'm in for great treats. As soon as I lay down on my bed, I can see the blue sky. Some days it is a light blue, and some others the blue is very intense, as if someone had lifted an imperceptible veil from it. There are some clouds at times, which are the perfect trigger to start my imagination in a predictable wild track. I start looking for identifiable shapes and briefly, follow their paths in the air.

When my heavy eyelids start closing in slow motion, I can hear the chirp of baby birds waiting for their mom to feed them, or a hawk racing high in the air, trying to find his next prey, or a seagull calling on her peers to join her on her way back to the ocean.

As I'm falling dead to the concerns of life and awaking to the unreal world of my dreams, I can also feel the soft wind coming through my open balcony. My bed is right next to it, and while alone, there's nothing obstructing that breezy touch that comes and goes in waves over my skin. Delightful! This gives me not only a nice sensation but also great relief from the heat that my bedroom walls keep as if they were afraid that the sun might not come back the next day. If I stretch enough, I can touch those walls and feel the warmth filtering through from the other side.

Oh, and the perfumes of summer. The water from the sprinklers showering the soil, and the grass, and the flowers, and the trees… Freshness all around! The impression is so strong that, unexpectedly, those smells seem to come to me right here, right now, as I'm writing. Particularly, the smell of the wet soil - it immediately brings childhood memories of the family "hacienda" in Mexico, and the horses, the bulls and the cornfields. These memories, like a magic wand, cast a comforting spell of happiness that I let easily invade me.

Living a few blocks away from the beach, I cannot hear the sound of the waves when I'm napping; this would bring heaven to earth for me. However, I can smell the ocean from my room. The smell of the ocean is stronger during the summer months. I can almost hear my dad saying, "Fill up your lungs with this air. More, more, until you cannot take anymore in. It is very good for your health." This thought makes me smile and repeat the sideway/upward arm motion that accompanied his words, as I used to when my dad and I went on our walking expeditions on the beach.

I'm lucky enough to have my 80-plus year old mother living with me in Santa Barbara. She's very energetic and is always looking for something to do or somewhere to go. Cooking though, is the one thing that she's taken upon herself to do for the family. No one is saying no, as you can imagine. Usually, I nap a little before she starts cooking. Imagine to be awakened by the sweet smells of a variety of chiles, and other spices for flavor and smell combinations that are to die for. I've seen these make the pickiest culinary "connoisseurs" lick their fingers.

Some could argue that one can see, feel, smell, hear and savor all these things during any other time of the year, and they might be right. However, if you ask me, summer is to the seasons as high definition is to television. During summer, sounds are sharper, colors and smells are stronger, and things, in general, are better defined to give more pleasure to our senses. Oh yeah!

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latina perspective.

Cross-posted at

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