all of the selves we Have ever been
Come On, Summer!
More people are out walking today.
At long last the sun has come out and the temperature is rising. A more typical late spring morning has come with the promise that summer is on its way.
I pass a broad grassy area where a dog is on its back, paws clawing the air. The pup is wriggling in the cool green grass as if being tickled to death. The pet owner stands back and studies her phone. She waits patiently for her pet. The dog can’t get enough, and his squirming activates the joy switch in passing observers. Everyone smiles. Some laugh out loud. Most slow down. Others stop to watch. There is something contagious here.
I study the grass and note the long blades so soft and thick and lush. I want to kick off my shoes and stretch out too, maybe roll down this grassy hillside. I want to capture some of that summer energy, enough to keep me rolling and squealing with joy.
Back home I resist the urge to turn on the air conditioner. I draw the blinds and turn on a fan. I think about the time when central air conditioning was a luxury item and uncommon in a household as ordinary as mine. I remember that time when a hot, sweaty child might lie down or roll around in a cool grassy place to escape the heat and wipe off the grime that accumulates without effort on the moist bodies of summer-busy children.
There was a routine to summer in the America before air conditioning—open all the windows wide at night even when it was raining. Maybe put a fan in the window to further cool the air. Rise early ahead of the sun, close the drapes and pull the blinds. Pretend you are not home when the sun comes knocking.
Indoors, a dark, cool stillness was maintained. As the temperature rose outside, our individual engines went on idle. We tried to minimize any movement that would generate heat indoors. We were cautioned against “running in and out.” Our interior worlds were calm, quiet, cool, and peaceful like a church after the worshippers have gone home.
Outside it was fair game to run and play. Barefooted, we stepped off the scalding hot sidewalk into lush green grass. The moisture it contained was like a cool compress. We loved the daring extremes of hot and cold. Later in the day we started the sprinklers or filled the wading pool. The stiff green hose gave us power over the heat. When rest was needed, we could sit beneath a tree or under the cover of a porch or patio roof where we read, colored, or made up tales and argued about what was true and could or could not have happened. The song of the ice cream truck in the distance would get us up and moving, scrambling for change. We stood in the street and enjoyed the delicious dripping, frozen sweetness of red, white and blue popsicles.
We loved summer and much of what that season meant—no school, long days, freedom, sprinklers and swimming pools, popsicles and trips to the custard stand. We loved the two worlds of summer. There was our outside world which was full of heat, energy, and activity, the place where we partied with the natural elements. When we were tired, we retreated to our interior world of coolness and calm, soft light and peace. There was a place to run and a place to rest. Each world offered its own kind of reward. There was joy, and there was daring—in running into the heat—and in finding your escape.
Never have we had a greater need for a change of season.
Come on, summer! We’ve been waiting for you.
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