Why I Love Summer

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.

July

It’s hot. This is probably not news to you. It’s been too hot to do a lot of things I usually do like walk outside during the day. So I’ve been staying inside and reading more. I should be writing more but my writing brain seems to have taken a vacation. I write a little but it’s really shitty writing. Very shitty. I have ideas, I jot them down and….that’s about it.

When I’m not mowing (heat or no heat, it must be done), I’m in the garden picking cucumbers and beans and digging up potatoes. Or watering. After a super rainy spring, the rain clouds clocked out and moved elsewhere for the summer. Watering is not my favorite thing to do but it gives me a chance to weed and plan for next year. It offers an opportunity to crouch down and see my garden at a different angle.

When I’m not doing garden chores or house chores or reading, I’m planning short excursions for the fall. I’ve got two state parks picked out for weekends when there’s no band practice, no football games, no school or work interferences. One is by the Potomac River at the end of October when it might still be nice enough during the day to stick our feet in the water but chilly enough at night to light a fire in the cabin’s fireplace. The other is near the mountains. I’m saving that for Thanksgiving weekend if I can get the cabin I want (I always choose the ones farthest away from people; the ones at the end of the road). That one has no tv, no wifi and probably terrible cell phone service but that’s exactly what we’ll need (whether the children agree or not) by then. Marching band madness will be over and we can take a deep breath and go on hikes after (I hope) the first frost has killed the majority of the most annoying insects. More fires in the fire place and movies on the computer. A little time to unwind and be bored.

Josie the kitten and I have settled into a routine. She’s learned the ropes and the other cats are getting used to her. They’ll touch noses with her before they hiss. They are coming around. She’s found favorite places to sleep and favorite toys to play with. Every new change takes time to become regular life. Having no children here in the summer has become regular life. A couple more weeks and then they’ll be back and we’ll revert to our “regularly scheduled programming” – our other regular life. This time will be folding in a new cat.

Until then, I’m catching up on my reading. It’s nice to just sit and read. My part-time gig has dried up for the time being – too hot for even park events and all the teams are on vacation until it cools down – so my weekends alone are quiet. Just me and Josie and the cicadas outside the window.

Summer is best when it’s spent slowly, doing very little. And so that’s what I’m doing.

Glutton For Punishment

Okay, so it’s been nearly two months since I last posted here. I apologize, but I’ve got good reasons. The first is that life has been busy and I have had nothing in particular to say apart from creating a third blog that is also neglected.

The end of the school year is always crazy busy and I forget this every single year. Like I have mom dementia or something. In addition, I joined the band booster board as treasurer (a job I am not really qualified for – shh, don’t tell them! – but that’s the way volunteer jobs go. You take the one that says yes, rather than holding out for a better fit. You’d be waiting until forever.). And then there were birthdays – Red turned 12! I turned 50!! There aren’t enough exclamation points for that last thought!!!! Holy Shit!!!! How am I old??? At least it’s happening to a lot of my friends so I’m not alone in this new decreptitude (though I will admit that I’m a lot more happy and content these days than I was 20 years ago. Hell, than 10 years ago!).

As soon as school was done, we gallivanted off to NYC for a couple days. We stayed in Brooklyn and visited: Coney Island, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Tenement Museum, Elliot’s apartment (from Mr. Robot), High Line Park, Central Park, saw Matilda, the Brooklyn Public Library, and the Brooklyn Museum. We visited the library mainly because we were waiting for the BM to open and the BPL had not only bathrooms but wifi. So, score! And a library is a great place to kill time without looking suspicious for loitering and you don’t have to buy anything. Even though we could have. Out here in Podunk, they don’t have cafe’s in their libraries. And my closest library is about the size of a Brooklyn apartment so you’d have to get rid of the children’s section if you wanted to add a cafe.

We celebrated my birthday in Prospect Park with friends and had breakfast every morning at Tom’s Diner. I saw exactly zero celebrities during our entire trip. I wasn’t really looking very hard for them anyway. It was too hot to gawk.

Then we came home and the girls left for their dad’s for the summer and I went back to work and now it’s July.

And because I can’t ever just be happy with the status quo, I adopted a kitten. She’s very cute but has created quite a lot of crazy drama over the past week. She’s finally settled down a bit and even though the other cats refuse to come in the house or have anything to do with her, we’ve figured out a decent routine that generally works. And she’s become comfortable enough with her new mom (me) and new surroundings that she can happily play by herself with a variety of paper balls and knobs of sticks and odds and ends she scares up without freaking out every time I leave the room. I hope we’ll continue to make progress and the cats will accept her and she’ll have cat friends on the outside and won’t need so much of my attention. She hasn’t shown any obvious signs that she understands the whole litter pan concept but I’m hoping that’ll happen eventually.

Anyway, that’s what’s been going on. Stuff and things. With a little drama thrown in for good measure.