As the denouement of summer approaches, I find myself clinging to each day. I reminisce on the early days of the season when I was impervious to the mention, sight, and thought of returning to school. The days when all my attention went to a passion for reading and writing, laughing with friends and family, and eating doughnuts.
Earlier this summer, Dad spoiled my sister Gigi and I to Duck Donuts — a doughnut bakery twenty minutes from our home. We drove along Rockville Pike, the air condition blasting the hair away from my face and the sun’s rays glimmering on my right shoulder. I gazed out the window, watching trees and stores whip behind us as Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go for That” played softly on the radio.
“DOUGHNUT TIME,” Gigi screamed as we pulled into the parking lot marked by a bakery with an animated yellow duck on the door.
The three of us hopped out of the car and headed in the direction of Duck Donuts. My sister sprinted, I briskly walked, and Dad strolled. A chime rang as we opened the door. The smell of fried dough lingered in the air and seeped into the fabric of my dress.
I looked at the board above the counter and pondered my options.
“Do you know what you’ll get?” I asked Gigi.
“No idea. You?” she replied.
“I can’t decide. This place is like Build-A-Bear but with doughnuts,” I said.
“It’s Design-A-Donut,” Gigi laughed.
A few moments passed, but I created the perfect combination.
“I’ll have a blueberry frosted doughnut with crushed graham cracker topping and a raspberry drizzle,” I told the man behind the cashier.
Gigi ordered a vanilla frosted doughnut with crumbled Oreo topping and salted caramel drizzle, while Dad ordered a glazed doughnut with coconut shavings. Once we placed our order, Gigi and I rushed to the right half of the bakery where they fry and frost the doughnuts while Dad found seats for us on the left half.
This was the best part of the day. Watching the bakers decorate the doughnuts reminded me of scenes in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Anything involving bright colors and sugar evoked memories of seven-year-old me singing along with the Oompa Loompas as they observed the chubby Augustus Gloop drown in the chocolate river.
“I think those are ours!” Gigi said as she nudged my arm.
The baker waited for the bare doughnuts to ascend from the machine before plucking them off the belt and placing them inside a box. She took one diagonal step to the frosting station, squinted her eyes and read a note. She removed lids from a variety of tins with summertime citrus flavors, releasing the scent of a tropical garden thriving with an abundance of orange and lemon trees. Multicolor frostings ranging from strawberry to orange to key lime to lemon welcomed bare doughnuts.
She poured frosting on each of our doughnuts, then zigzagged a drizzle, and sprinkled a sweet and crunchy topping.
“Order 64,” the lady announced and slid the boxes on the counter.
Gigi and I snatched the three doughnuts and heat permeated the box. I rushed to Dad and dropped the boxes above the table.
“They’re beautiful,” I said. Gigi pretended to cry joyful tears.
I propped my doughnut on my fingertips, and they dipped into the periwinkle frosting. I cherished the first bite, appreciating the flavors and taking a mental note to write down the combination I chose. I tasted summertime, a perfect blend of hot blueberry pie on July 4th and freshly picked raspberries. My bites increased as my doughnut shrunk and soon disappeared. I craved more, but a second doughnut would not have tasted the same.
Gigi glanced at me and smiled an Oreo-cookie-covered grin, and Dad was on his last bite. We all nodded at each other and took a sip of coffee, silently toasting to the summer.