The other night, after falling asleep and waking up again an hour later, I got up and prowled around the house. When insomnia hits, I usually try to conjure up a meditative state of mind, writing down all the things that are bothering me or I need to remember, and then I attempt to lie quietly and wait for my body to fall back to sleep. If that doesn’t work, I’ll read. If that doesn’t work, I walk around and peer out windows and listen to the insects. It was a full moon so I went down to the other end of the house to see it more fully without going outside. There she was, shining on the house, keeping me awake. But I don’t mind insomnia quite so much in the summer as I do in the winter. The temperature is pleasant for one thing, everything’s alive outside.
Finally, I went back to bed and thought about all the things I love about summer. I’ve probably written this post before but I’m gonna do it again, ahead of a big awful triple-digit heat wave that even I don’t like. It can actually get to hot for me but being cold is always worse.
1. The heat. I like warmth. I like to be warm. I like to be comfortable in just a sleeveless top and a pair of short pants. I like to be comfortable in no clothes at all. I’m cold natured. I’m not a fan of a/c except when it’s really really hot – it has its place – but I don’t really like chilly air blowing on me, ever. I like walking out of the house in one layer. No coat, no socks, none of that other crap you have to layer on yourself just to get the paper in the winter. It’s a whole production, going outside when it’s freezing. I was meant for warm weather.
2. The humidity. I do. I like it. Sure, sometimes there’s too much of a good thing and I don’t really enjoy sweating and being damp all day but my skin likes the humidity and it feels….right. Maybe it’s that I’m a Southerner. I’m used to it. I don’t know. But humidity is never something I’ll complain about.
3. Cicadas and the night noises of insects. It’s 8:00pm, still light out and there’s something trilling rhythmically outside that isn’t a cricket. Crickets are for other seasons, insects of last resort. Cicadas are music – that chwee-chwee-chweeee-chweeeeeeeee they make tells me it’s summer. They are harmless bumbling creatures. Ugly but harmless. They don’t eat my garden, they don’t sting or bite. They don’t carry disease. That’s my kind of insect.
4. The junglizing of everything, the greenness, the lushness of everything. This is how everything is supposed to look, all time. All the other seasons are just minor transitions to get us back to this: fully leafed trees, flowers, grass. There are sections of the road I drive every day that are covered by a canopy of leaves as the branches of trees over the road make shade tunnels.
5. School’s out. No school buses, kids sleep late most days, teachers are home, everyone takes a deep breath and lets it out again. The pace is slower, offices have skeleton crews as people cycle in and out of vacations. It’s how life should be if none of us had to work all the time and the kids didn’t have to study all the time.
6. Spending whole days reading or daydreaming or napping or whatever you want. I have spent almost entire days reading. It’s lovely. Oh sure, you could probably do it any other weekend during the rest of the year but most of them are filled up with things, chores, activities, errands, demands, commitments. Summer is different.
7. The beach. Everything about the beach I love. The sand, the ocean, the sound of the waves crashing, the horizon melting into the ocean far away with nothing blocking that line between earth and air but distance.
8. Thunderstorms – the sound of thunder and rain pouring down on the roof, the thunder and lightning, that ozone smell, the build up, the release,
9. Fireflies. Another summer-only insect that is harmless and beautiful. Who doesn’t love fireflies? You don’t get that in the winter.
10. Praying mantises. I should probably write a whole post about My Favorite Bugs. I love these guys with their freaky alien heads. I love watching them walk about, trying not to get in the way, scanning for a meal, pouncing on some awful bad bug and eating its head. When I find their egg cases, I protect them. They are a gardener’s friend.
11. The garden. Goes without saying, perhaps, but even though I reach maximum laziness by August and I’m not doing much more than keeping things alive and picking food off the plants, I love my garden. I love the whole process – planning, digging, planting, weeding, protecting, watering, watching things grow – but I really like it when it’s reached full jungle stage in July when there’s not really much more you (me) can do but keep things alive and watered, weed, pick, and then begin to dismantle bit by bit.
Every summer seems shorter than the last. It used to seem to last forever but those were days when I didn’t work, when I catapulted out of my house in the morning after eating a bowl of cereal and throwing on yesterday’s clothes, and went to find a friend to have adventures with or sit around on half broken swing sets and moan about being bored, the whole day stretching out into the evening until dark which came much later than the rest of the year.
Now I’m in an office all day and the most outdoor time I have is when I’m mowing. Which, granted, is a lot of time, but it’s not quite the same. But it doesn’t matter because it’s summer. Whatever I’m doing, inside or out, it’s still summer.