PARKING TICKET written on a highlighter yellow envelope lying on the white kitchen counter. It screams! It’s been there for a week.
Initial Fine doubles if not paid within 10 days.
It was Tuesday evening. I met my friend, Shelli, for a beautiful evening on the patio at Hop Cat. We had fish tacos and crack fries. We got caught up on her move to a new home, her summer vacation at the cottage, her granddaughter. The sky was the perfect color blue. The sun illuminated the city scene. The sweat on the glass gave testimony to the humidity in the air. It was a perfect summer evening on the patio. I walked back to my car parked along the city street. I had been careful to put enough quarters in the meter and crank the knob to the right each time. The sun was still up because it is only a few weeks past the summer solstice. The heat rose up from the sticky pavement and radiated up my legs under my sundress. My rule of thumb for a perfect summer evening is one in which I can sit outside on a restaurant patio and not have to wear a sweater over my sundress. Yup, this was it. The perfect summer evening. Then I caught a glimpse of the parking ticket tucked under my windshield wiper. Its edge fluttered slightly in the soft breeze. My smile relaxed a little. My sense of self satisfaction was slightly tinged. If I had only put in two more quarters I could’ve saved myself $20.00. My summer evening had been perfect. I felt very alive. The summer evening sun was still warm on the back of my neck. The conversation was still swirling in my head. The parking ticket was just a tiny annoyance. I swatted away the thought of it as I tucked it away in my purse for the time being returning my state of mind to perfect.
Sunday night was one of those unforgettable Michigan summer nights. Sometimes living in Michigan takes a lot of fortitude. However, it is all made worthwhile by our exquisite summers. They are absolutely splendid. After a long, cold, dark winter I expect a sweltering hot summer. Anything less and I feel cheated. This summer started out slow. Winter was brutal. She was cold and long and the snow piled high in our driveways and parking lots. We had five snow days! Almost unheard of in my district. I hold on to the hope of an idyllic Michigan summer to get me through the dark days of winter. This year however, spring came late. Spring break came early which meant that after a lovely vacation in Mexico, we had to endure cold and yes, more snow. May came and went. It was rainy. I passed a sign at a church that read, “Dear May, April called. She wants her rain back.” Then, June came – and went. June was not very June like. During the last week of June we hosted an exchange student from Germany. Many of the activities scheduled for the group of Blue Lake International exchange students were planned outside. You can usually count on late June. But late June let us down this year. Not only was there pouring down rain on the morning we decided to go walk around downtown and get hot dogs from the Dog Pit but the weather was cold. 54 degrees on June 28th. A concert in the park should’ve been a sweltering, buggy event. But it was freezing. And then finally, after all of the suffering, Michigan did what Michigan does best. A gorgeous, clear night, with a stunning red sunset. We spent the entire evening on our boat on the Thornapple River with good friends. We started out sunning ourselves and when the sun started to wane and our stomachs started to growl, we looked at each other and wondered aloud – “Should we head in for dinner?” Not wanting to call it quits on such a beautiful evening I quietly floated a balloon – “Or, we could get pizza…” We started checking for cell phones, numbers for the pizza place, and debit cards. We called and ordered pizza to the boat. An hour wait? No problem. Not tonight. We’ve only got time. We are enjoying such a lovely evening. The pizza was gingerly handed over the bow of the boat by the delivery guy. Success! Got the pizza and the boat got no bumps on the rocks. We munched and cruised. We cruised and chatted. Nightfall finally came. The watermelon colored moon followed us as we drifted up river. Reluctantly towards midnight we headed into the slip. Although I had to get up early the next morning, I wasn’t going to let perfect night on the water slip through my fingers. I wasn’t going to let this moment get away. Not after waiting so long. Thank you Michigan – you finally made good on your promise of a beautiful summer night.came