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Notes to my Neighbors 6.21.2006

By Rick Racela

Summer’s back and I’m in heaven. The temps are back in the 90’s, the Parkway’s gridlocked, and my little corner of the world is beautiful.  I haven’t been to the beach yet, I haven’t had a slice of Sam’s, I haven’t even spent an evening on my porch with the citronella candles smoking, and yet my whole outlook has brightened. For me, everything seems easier, less serious when I’m wearing sandals. (That’s why you won’t see me in shoes until November.) What can I say? Some people live for football season, some can’t wait ’til the holidays, and some (heaven forbid!) love the opportunity to ski down snow-covered mountains. Brrrrr. Me? I wait all year for the sun to punch up its strength again to give my pasty-white skin a little color, and to get those Jersey tomatoes popping out of vines all around me.  On my way to work the other day, I caught a noseful of honeysuckle. Wow! Nature’s aromatherapy. Cures what ails me, for sure. Smells trigger memories, and honeysuckle brings me back to Germantown when I was a kid and the air was thick with it. Breathe in honeysuckle; exhale all grown-up tension. Be a kid again. Another day last week at lunchtime, I put the top down and drove from the Herald building, down the Parkway and over the Ocean Drive to meet Art at Harbor View. Is there a better treat than munching conch fritters on the deck while dozens of boats bob lazily in their slips? One other afternoon, we meandered down to the new spot, Lucky Bones in Cape May, where we had the tastiest, most unusual crabcakes ever. Actually, they were shrimp and crab with a tangy lime dipping sauce. Excellent.  So now it becomes clear. I love summer because it brings with it the richest sensory pleasures of the year. I love eating out, and if the sun’s invited, it’s truly a party.  Do I exaggerate?  Of course I do. But you can’t deny that summer generates positive energy.  Think about it: kids are thrilled to be out of school and parents are ecstatic that their mornings don’t revolve around fixing lunches and carpooling. Old people’s bones (like mine) are much less cranky when the sun shines.    So hurray for summer. And for more reasons than these.  Its arrival means we’re halfway through 2006. So it’s a semi-New Year’s. It’s time to celebrate where we’ve been and where we’re headed.  This first half of 2006 has been great fun for me. Since January, our kids have earned promotions and certifications. Our grandkids have graduated kindergarten and pre-school and made First Holy Communion. Art and I have branched out successfully in our careers.  Our families and circles of friends have become stronger and more meaningful to us with every passing day. My resolutions for the next half of 2006? Well, I do want to end world hunger and promote world peace. (Oh, sorry. I got myself confused with the Miss New Jersey contestants.) Actually, my real goal is to spend at least three more months enjoying warmth – in the form of friendship, family connections, professional achievements, and yes, even a bit of a tan.    And there are many special events under the sun, too.  Smile. I’ll be there with my camera.  Find all the details in On Deck’s calendar, and I’ll see you there.

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