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Illustration by Susan Sanford.

Welcome to The Monthly’s annual summer essay issue. This spring, we invited readers to start with “31 Flavors” as the jumping-off point for a personal essay—“ice cream references not mandatory”—and see where the idea took them. As you might expect in the diverse East Bay, we received quite a smorgasbord of responses, encompassing a variety of sensual summer memories, as well as pregnant brides, doomed relationships, jumbo packs of crayons—and, yes, ice cream. Here are some of our favorites; hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did. —The editors.

A Wedding Sampler | by Judy Bebelaar

A Different Light | by Cynthia Overbeck Bix

Taste Summer | by Joyce Thompson

The Water’s Fine | by Rachel Trachten

Finer Than Frog Hair | by Wichita Sims

Coloring in the Details | by Joanne Catz Hartman

Flavor of the Moment | by Nancy McKay