Well Intended: Summer rhythms comforting as the season wanes
Published 7:07 am, Sunday, August 16, 2015
Summers speed by too quickly. In a couple of weeks, the children will go back to school and the structured days of early morning alarm clocks, packed lunches, bus schedules and homework begin again. But these last weeks of August are filled with possibility. The kids’ summer camps and scheduled activities are finished and we have this time to enjoy the sunny days as we wish.
After such a long winter, I feel compelled to spend as much time as I can outdoors. I hope to have picnic dinners at the beach with friends, go to the Levitt Pavilion to hear music and sit on the sloping lawn with a glass of wine. I want to kayak in the Sound, and dig for clams and ride my bike into town for a cup of iced tea. My garden is filled with tomatoes, cucumbers and pink dahlias, and I promise myself that I will put up some pickles and make some jam before the fall. I want to pick wild raspberries and hike in the woods.
In the mornings, I wait for the kids to wake up. Glad to be working from home, I make waffles and bacon and hope that the smell will entice them out of their beds and into the kitchen where we will plan a pleasant adventure for the afternoon. The breakfast grows cold and the dog climbs back into bed with one of them. She curls up in a pool of blanket at the foot of the bed and opens one eye when I walk by, irritated at me for disturbing her.
Mid-day, they creep out, sleepy and content. My son’s hands and feet seem to grow overnight and I wonder how much energy it takes to lengthen bone. They check their phones for messages and warm the bacon in the microwave, counting out pieces in a sibling barter-system. Their voices are hoarse and weary when they chuckle at a silly video or message that a friend has posted online. I used to ask what it was, wanting to share their amusement, but have since learned that it’s better to smile unknowingly rather than roll my eyes.
I return more emails or make a few calls while my son watches a television show and my daughter draws, or they play a game together. It’s afternoon before I know it and I suggest that everyone please get dressed. “We should do something later,” I say. “When I finish up this one work thing, let’s go on a hike.” They nod and ask me to look at a drawing they have made or if their friends can come over tomorrow. “It’s lovely.” I say and mean it. And, of course, your friends can come, that would be nice. I go back upstairs and sit down at my desk and enjoy the warmth of the sun coming in the window. Downstairs, they are talking animatedly about the strategies and nuances of a video game that they are trying to master — a foreign language that they share.
I get caught up in my work and suddenly they are asking about dinner. “Can we order a pizza?” I had planned on grilling out, and we have all those nice vegetables, I remind them. I promise to go downstairs in a minute and start making something. Perhaps we’ll light a candle on the patio table and eat outside. It’s getting darker earlier than it was last month. It seems like just yesterday we were waiting for it to get dark enough for 4th of July fireworks at 9 p.m.
At dinner, we talk about our day. They ask me about my work and I apologize for not taking them anyplace fun. They shake their heads at me and assure me that to them, it was truly the perfect summer day.