A high of 94 on Monday? Get out the Patagonia fleece. Fall is on the way and count on it soothing our chaffed souls by week’s end.

Returning from a beach vacation can be a wrenching experience, but one that is hard to sell to those who have not enjoyed similar good fortune, so no sale, now or imminently.

That doesn’t mean everything wasn’t dead or dying upon re-entry, except for the nutgrass — which had roared back in the carefully weeded flower bed — but even the nutgrass made me feel optimistic given its vigor.

The azaleas, the lawn, the dogs, everything else was just hanging on. They may make it to October, they may not.

We’re all about one more heat wave away from folding our tents, but we’re not quitters, are we? Not me, I still have sand in the pockets of my shorts from the beach.

I was feeling so good about life, summer and Bakersfield that I didn’t even mind the pantry pests, those small flying moths, that had set up camp in the pantry and infiltrated bags of roasted salted almonds and the half-opened and not sealed box of Honey Nut Cheerios in the pantry. When I walked in to fetch a can of plum tomatoes, it was as if the pantry pests had sent a flying, welcome-home party. They might as well have been sporting one of the banners you see planes dragging across the skies at the beach and instead of reading, “Summer sale at Sun Splash Swimwear,” read, “Get ready to throw away a lot of perishables because no way you’re going to find every one of us.” Pantry pests are about as difficult to get rid of as nutgrass.

Pretty soon everything in the pantry will be in Tupperware or wrapped as if it were the Shroud of Turin.

Pantry pests, nutgrass, who cared when it was 78 degrees at 8 a.m. Monday morning. It was impossible to be unhappy and not to think that good days lie ahead.


Mike McCarthy was a prince. McCarthy, who died recently, had the kind of manners that never go out of style. He was courtly and always seemed to be smiling. He smiled like he might have known something you didn’t, but if he did, he had no intention of lording it over you. McCarthy looked comfortable in his own skin.

He and his wife, Linda, also a lovely person, lived across from William Penn Elementary School. The chorus of young voices floated across the street and provided a soundtrack to an already good man’s life.


Dolly Hei, one of Shafter’s finest, emailed saying Monday, the Monday with the fine fall-like weather, was Russell Baker’s birthday. Baker is a great writer, a humorist and makes people laugh. (Sound familiar?)

On being the host of "Masterpiece Theatre," which Baker was from 1992-2004, he wrote:

"Television is harder than I thought. I can't bear to look at myself. I fancied that I was an exceedingly charming, witty, and handsome young man, and here's this fidgeting old fellow whose hair is parted on the wrong side."

That’s never happened to me before.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at hbenham@bakersfield.com or (661) 395-7279.

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