In the summer, the song sings itself.William Carlos Williams
Now that Memorial Day weekend has passed, we are advised by marketers that summer has “officially” begun, and we should all be grilling burgers outdoors and eating potato salad. That is not a bad idea any time of year, but the whole “official” thing is something I struggle with. The summer solstice is still three weeks away. The sky is gray, and it is raining hard as I write these words.
Still, as it is my favorite time of year, I am all for moving up the starting date, even if the sky does not go along with the plan. This year, more than any I can remember, it seems that the world needs blue sky and flowers in bloom. . even more than hamburgers and potato salad, which is saying a great deal.
If you have been following my blog for awhile you know that my childhood summers were pretty idyllic, marked by several camping vacations with my family, trout fishing, swimming in the lake, and of course hiking. As I got older I cared less about swimming and trout fishing and simply wanted to be on the trails as much as possible. And since the trails in the high country of the mountains near my home were often not free of snow until mid-July, this brief time in the sun surrounded by a meadow full of blooms was especially poignant. I had about six weeks to do the thing I loved most.
Around the first of August I would start to panic, especially as the thought of returning to school began to creep into my mind unbidden. I could not help it. School supplies were on the shelves. There was no escaping the fact that I would soon be sitting at a desk with a freshly sharpened pencil, wearing a dress, and practicing long division. Though I always did well in school, much of my time was spent daydreaming about the mountain trails. And there was always a lurking fear that it might not return. These days in the sun were simply a blip on the calendar, never long enough.
These days I certainly do not have to return to school, nor do I even have a job anymore, yet I confess I still experience a sense of urgency around the first of August. The nature of the fear has changed a bit. Since I am old, there is the fear that I may not be around for the next summer, though I remain in robust health and have no immediate plans to do a face plant in the flower bed.
But this is not another post about the brevity of life and the bird of time being on the wing and all of that (see Chasing the Airstream, May 15th of this year). Perhaps the panic is instead about sheer exhaustion from all of that exuberance. The hummingbirds are jockeying for position at the feeder, and the nasturtiums are spilling over the edge of the planter. In the evening in the high country I am bathed in the soft alpenglow. The raindrops catch the light on the long needles of the pine trees. It takes a lot of energy to love the world so much, to let it all in, to be dazzled for three months every year. Perhaps instead of a face plant in the flower bed I will instead hit the ground and join the paintbrush and lupine in an alpine meadow. If so, I know what my last word will be. Amen.