summer starts here
across town, the bell will clang one last time. little hearts will cartwheel inside ribcages that hold it all in — too tight — for most of the year. school buses will rumble down the cobbled streets, well before lunchtime. at every corner, kids will bound off, as if a new lease on life.
it’s that rarest of mornings when the exhale is deep and long and the launch pad for unbroken weeks — or at least a few hours — of hassle-free summer.
for the curly-haired wonder in this old house, it means the stacks of seventh-grade homework will finally dwindle. it means no more 6:30 alarms. no more school buses to be missed. it means, any minute now, the front door will burst open and in will tromp a herd of not-so-little feets. big plans have been hatched for stacks of syrupy pancakes at the diner down the lane, where the screen door slaps and the flat-top sizzles, egg after egg after egg scrambled or fried or flipped over easy.
even for the mama, it’s joy undiluted. that moment when summer begins remains enshrined, tucked high on a shelf, safe in a plexiglass cube. it’s the closest thing to carefree i can conjure. all these years later, i remember rushing into my own growing-up kitchen, end-of-year report card in hand. i remember the certain sparkle in the air. i remember my mama, putting down the day’s errands and chores, just long enough to pile us all in the wagon, and take us out for a drive. out for lunch at a formica-topped counter. not unlike the one my own little fellow will wander off to today.
there aren’t so many carefree moments left anymore. so this one, this one that’s caught in the crosshairs of all the counting down, it’s one worth deep-breathing. it’s a moment to savor. it’s a place to begin the fine art of slowing time. sucking each droplet of wonder and joy out of this one sweet morning that spills into afternoon’s adagio. and might even last till tomorrow.
slowing time, the essence of summer.
here’s a short list of ways i might dip my toe in that most essential seasonal wonder:
take off my shoes. tickle my toes in the grass.
sign up for summer reading at the library. or, pick one fat book that’s long overdue on my i-need-to-read-this list and pledge to turn page after page till i get to the end.
keep close watch on the old rambling roses, on the brink of bloom any hour now.
tuck myself in the old screen porch, and drink in the soundtrack of summer — the baby birds out for their first fledgling flights, the wren who calls out her glories from high in the pines, the roar of the lawn mowers that never go quiet.
pile a saucer with juiciest berries. pop into mouth, one sweet succulent shlurp at a time.
unfurl a beach towel across the grass that is my make-believe beach. slather on sunscreen — mostly because it smells the way summer is meant to smell — and bake there till i can’t stand the heat. that oughta last 10 minutes or less.
consider long tall glasses of glistening waters, aswim with plucked-from-the-garden mint and slices of lemon.
pile the grill with farmer’s market bounty.
ferry dinner out to the summer porch. light candles as the sun goes down. sit there, watching, till the firefly show begins. be sure to invite the neighbors, the ones who turn the simplest joys into most cherished hours.
weigh the virtues of sleeping outside. remember the neighborhood skunk. reconsider.
once, just once, head to the beach with a thermos of coffee, a fat sunday paper, and the promise to practice relaxing.
do not promise to slip into a bathing suit and promenade at the village pool.
when summer rains slide into the forecast, prepare to make the best of it: inhale the raindrops’ pit-a-pat from inside the screened porch, or better yet, slip on rubber galoshes and plop around the puddles, making like you’re seven again.
eat so many fresh-from-the-vine tomatoes you’re bound to sprout a canker sore or two. negligible price for summer’s juiciest trophy.
what will you scribble onto your summertime wonder list? and what’s on your summer reading list?