The Siren Song of Summer

It takes all my discipline to do my work during these lazy summer days.

Everything conspires against me. The distinctive perfume from the petunias and the cedar chips, heated by the afternoon sun. Culinary delights from the neighbors’ barbecues wafting across my yard at all times of the day and night. Above my head in the sweet-smelling linden tree, the drone of the bees industriously flitting from flower to flower. The chittering and scolding of the squirrels. The shadows of the butterflies and goldfinches floating and teasing across the patio stones. The snap of Nala’s jaws when a “sky raisin” tantalizes her by flying too close.

leaves above me

All I want to do is be outside with Nala, enjoying a cold drink and the flora and fauna of my yard. Except the deer. They’re jerks who eat my flowers and don’t flush, but that’s a story for another, crankier day.

deer poop

I’ve just recently figured out how to be on my patio with my laptop, where and when there’s no glare, but optimum shade resides. My beautiful patio is only a few years old, you see, when we threw scads of money at an ugly problem and transitioned to something lovely. I told my husband yesterday it was the best thing we’ve ever spent money on. Sorry, kids.

Nala pulls me outside but I still have work that needs to get done. She loves being out there in all kinds of weather, but she has canine lupus which means she’s supposed to stay out of the sun. The patio is half in the shade as I write this at 2:15 in the afternoon and she positions herself in the shade or the dappled light near me. That isn’t always the case, however. When I’m not out there with her, more often than not she lays right in the sun, no matter how hot it might be.

Therefore, I don’t feel I can leave her to her own devices outside. The other problem is that I usually work upstairs. I know — because this has happened forty-leven gazillion times in the five years since we’ve had her — that the minute I get upstairs, she will want to come in. It comes in handy when I need to get my steps in, but it really wrecks my writing mojo.

So, I’ve made some tweaks to my schedule so that I know I’ll get everything done, regardless of the siren song of the yard. I’m at my desk by about 9:00 every morning. I set my timer for one hour and write nonstop. At the end of that hour, I record my word count, stretch, give Nala (and who am I kidding — myself) a treat. Then I set my timer for another hour. At the end of that time, I record my word count again, print out my pages for the day, and email the day’s work to myself. I eat lunch, Nala gets her “lunchtime cookie,” then I spend an hour with my email accounts (yes, setting the timer again).

When I close the lid to my laptop, no matter how stealthy I am or where she is in the house, Nala comes running up behind me, dancing with excitement, because she knows what comes next.


I pour myself a glass of something cold, grab my computer, and head to my zero-gravity chair. Because it’s generally at least breezy, if not downright windy out there, I can’t do any work that requires notes. So I’ve learned to title word docs with blog topics I need to pursue and leave them on my computer desktop. And pursue them I do.

Like this one.

While I wrote this, Nala spent time sniffing the wind, regally surveying her kingdom, sorting out a squirrel on the fence, and arranging herself in front of, behind, and next to me. For no reason I can discern, she rotates her comfy spot.

nala on patio

It makes me wonder what I do that is perfectly reasonable and logical to me, but that would cause any onlooker to scratch their head and mutter, “Weirdo.” Probably lots more than I suspect.

In our time outside, Nala also very delicately, with her tiny front teeth, stripped single blades of ornamental grass. At least until I asked her to please refrain.

And now she’s off to remind the squirrel who’s boss.

Nala on step

It’s her, by the way. She’s the boss. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Do you have a place outside you love? Do you write out there? Read? The one thing our yard doesn’t have anymore is a good place for a hammock. But that’s probably good. Can’t quite picture how I’d get any work done in a hammock!

Oh … I almost forgot this was Independence Day! (That’s what happens when you work at home.) Got any big plans? We’ll go to a neighbor’s house with a nice view of our big town fireworks show. (Yes, she invited us. Pfft.) We’re having a horrendous fire season here in Colorado already, so I hope not to hear those annoying and dangerous fireworks going off all over the neighborhood. At least Nala isn’t scared of them.


Author: Becky Clark

I write mysteries with humor and spend my free time attempting to rid my clothing of dog hair. My book FICTION CAN BE MURDER, the first in the Mystery Writer's Mystery series, was out April 2018, and the next one, FOUL PLAY ON WORDS will be out April 2019.

12 thoughts on “The Siren Song of Summer”

  1. Great pictures, Becky. Our deck is becoming one of my favorite spots. I’m typing from there right now. When we enclose it later this summer, we’ll even be able to sit out there when it’s raining (it’s open right now under a roof, so we’re okay in a gentle drizzle, but a good storm means time to go inside). As long as I move around until the sun is overhead, I stay reasonably cool, too.

    Happy Fourth! We’re trying to make a whole bbq chicken and our own coleslaw today. We’ll see how it goes.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Awesome photos!

    I love our main deck (the one off the bedroom gets too hot for me), our courtyard area in the front of the house with a fountain and flowers, and the patio by my desk in the back of the house also with a fountain and flowers. I’ve read and written from each, but my ancient laptop can’t install the newest release of Scrivener so any new writing will be longhand… for now.

    LoML is grilling some goodies for us today. With any luck his mom will join us. At 102 it’s always special when she feels up to an outing. She’s sharp as a tack, lives independently, and I love hearing some of her memories. I plan on making a small batch of my mom’s potato salad.

    Happy Independence Day!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. What an idyllic life! My favorite spot in the yard is crawling around in the dirt pulling weeds. I read somewhere there are enzymes in the dirt that act as anti-depressants. Not sure its true but I do know of my gardener friends and I, we crave dirt on our hands long before the snow has melted. Weird. I do have a outdoor wicker-like couch and chairs etc. Have not used them yet. May today because it’s brutally hot in Anchorage, Alaska and will be too hot to stay inside soon. Yesterday we broke the record at 81. Which I know is not a big deal for you in the Lower 48 but we don’t have the right clothes and there is no air conditioning.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I wonder if that’s true about the enzymes. It would explain a lot AND be a good Rx! Temperature comfort is indeed subjective. I lived in Phoenix in high school and after graduation I spent the summer back in Colorado. I had never been so hot in Phoenix!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Had to laugh over this–one of my favorite spots is the patio we installed after ripping out the swing set. Lilah enjoys following me around out there, pretending to garden. She used to go ape over squirrels in her younger days, and now she doesn’t see them. She knows they’re out there, though! We will be watching fireworks from our back deck. We can see them from about 5 surrounding towns–so fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s interesting about the squirrels. Nala, too, has chilled a bit. When we first got her, I clocked her at 3 hours and 28 min sitting ever-so still and staring at one in the tree. Now if that squirrel isn’t actively in her face, she loses interest fast. Growing up or growing old? Who knows!

      That would be a great venue for fireworks shows! that’s why we go to our friends house. It’s just down the street from us but she has a clear view of the whole front range. Spectacular. Enjoy!


  5. Great photos. Our backyard in “in transition” right now. We took out our old deck and planter boxes, (in dire need of replacement) and are trying
    redo them. There are piles of wood, both new and old, all over along with random piles of dirt. Fortunately, the patio, patio cover, and MY SWING are untouched by the chaos.
    This morning at the end of my walk (and listening to an audio book) I dodged the people running the 10K on the road as I headed to the donut shop to pick up a couple for a holiday breakfast treat. Later we will watch the parade, especially convenient since it goes about 2 blocks from our house. Finally we will walk (since parking is ABSURD) a couple of miles to the park to watch the fireworks.
    Happy Independence Day to all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds very small town Americana! I had to laugh when I read about the parking rules for our town’s display. As soon as the two lots are full they close the road in all directions. One lot empties to the south and one to the north. Don’t even THINK about going a different direction. And the road won’t reopen until the lots are empty, so if you live back there, you better not need to get in or out for the duration!


  6. I love this – it sounded so idyllic in the beginning and I was wishing I was with you and then came your sentence about the deer. Well everything else sounded lovely to me. Nala seems like a wonderful companion to have by your side. I worry about our neighborhood fireworks, in fact they went off three times while I was reading this post. They are too close for comfort and it’s not even dark yet. I know I heard earlier today that fireworks have been banned in parts of Colorado due to the dry weather and threat of wildfires. I’ll keep my fingers crossed you are okay. And keeping my fingers crossed for myself as well. I am not writing the Great American Novel, but I have my laptop set up in the kitchen at the kitchen table – it’s only me and I work from home … it’s never been freed off its tether. How boring I am and I ought to treat it to another location to keep it from getting stale.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What great pics! Your puppy is so sweet 😍

    Summer is the busiest time at my job, so when I have free time all I wanna do is relax. My writing has really suffered lately, but I’m starting to get back on track.

    I wish I had a deck, but I’ve got a decent-sized yard where my doggos can roam while I read/write in the shade. I should work outside more often and enjoy the sunshine while I can since this season is gone all too soon.


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