it comes without notice, like butterfly wings that waft before your face, your cheeks, the bump that ends your nose.
you catch the barest shift of breeze, a fluttering of light, you look up, you realize: something sacred just passed by. it came from who-knows-where, but along the way, it surely graced me.
and so it is with summer, with those wisps and darts of weightless wing. with the moments when the heaviness of all-year-long is suspended, when breeze blows through the screen, garden leaves flutter, light practically sparkles, and you feel your shoulders drop their heavy load.
it comes when dinner isn’t rushed, and isn’t quite at dinner time. but rather wends its way to the table at, oh, minutes shy of nine. and when the table is not the inside one, but rather the old slab of door with wobbly legs, the one that stands and beckons from the summer porch, the room with screens, the room lit part by candlelight and moon, and part by fireflies, blinking by.
it isn’t always here, that weightlessness that marks the essence of summerness. there are days and hours when the rush is still the same, when the thick soup of humidity slows you to a crawl, but still you’re dashing here and there, with no hope of long tall drinks of lemonade, or feet propped up on summer-splattered canvas outside pillows.
but that, i think, is what makes for the deliciousness of summer when it comes, when you catch it, when you’re standing at the sink and you don’t mind that it’s late, because the stars are out, and you intend to amble back outside, to sit and stare into the heavens, to not worry about bedtime, or the ticking of the clock at all.
amid a week of hustle and bustle, and birthdays and gosh-darn tornadoes, summer found me, caught me unawares, wrapped me in its gentle fold, beckoned me, like a crooked finger curling inward, “come, come, savor what my season offers…”
and so, i did as told.
i sliced a fat tomato, pinched a stem of basil from my kitchen windowbox. i sunk my teeth into a peach, let the juice drip down and splatter in the sink.
i opened windows, welcomed in the cool night air. i pulled my summer nightgown from the drawer, didn’t mind that it had holes, was torn just beneath the part where lace meets buttons. i love that old lacy thing, have held it back together with broad white satin ribbons, stitched and re-stitched it, but will not throw it out. nothing says summer’s eve quite like that old white cotton gown, now more ventilated than ever in its 20-some years.
i’ve a sweaty pitcher of pure clear water in the fridge. it’s rich with lemons by the slice and sprigs of mint, both leaving the barest essence of orchard and garden in my glass, and in my every gulp.
all over the house i’ve tucked old milk pitchers and creamers and itty-bitty glass bottles with pickings from the garden. it’s my friday act of benediction, renewing the vows of beauty from the climbing rose, the catmint, and just this week, the yarrow and hydrangea now in bloom.
but that’s just stage-set.
where summer settles best is in the soul. in the part of you that remembers not to worry for the moment. to soothe the long ragged edges. to breathe.
to savor all that summer allows: loose bedtimes, lack of homework, a world erupting full of scent and color. windows open. breakfast, lunch and dinner out of doors. farm bounty that begs no heat, no flame, just a shake of kosher salt and a hungry mouth is all.
did i mention the juicy drippy peach?
welcome summer, blessed summer, the season when, at best, we shed our worries and our cares. and we wrap ourselves in the weightless folds of these sacred slo-mo hours.
this week was big: my beloved “little sister” laura had a baby. on father’s day, bravo! my firstborn turned 17. bravo! my beloved mother-in-law came home from the hospital. bravo! and for so-called work i had to tromp through old historic gardens, lovely gardens, gardens in the rain. and gardens in the pure june sunlight. tis the week of summer solstice, mister sunshine at his utter highest. my hope for all of you is that somehow this week, and the one ahead, you find a moment to pull up a chair to the very best that summer offers, and you let it drip straight down your chin….