Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Long summer days begin early-by the time Esther wakes up at 6:30 the sun is already up. But the shadows of the trees and the play set still stretch long across the dewy suburban grass. For a person more used to evening shadows that stretch the other way, the world looks curious, slightly mysterious. It is full of the promise a new day brings of a story not yet written.

Summer is a time of watermelon: cool, crisp and sweet. If I were a gardener, it would mean fresh produce from my own backyard (and all the weeding and watering that go with it). Since I’m not, it means locally grown fruits and veggies at Spicer Brothers Produce. It means bending over strawberry vines—knees in the dirt, hands in the leaves—slowly filling a bowl with small, red, sweet, ripe berries and learning to work hard for our food. It is a time of hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, preferably eaten outside in the company of friends and family.

We fill up our little pools. We don our swimsuits, brave the breeze and the scorching sun, submerse our bodies, and splash until our skin crawls with goose bumps. We run around the yard to get warm. In a sunny corner we lay within reach of every warming ray. Esther discovers she can climb in and out of her tiny pool at will. Everywhere she sits on the patio she leaves a soggy diaper-shaped splotch. At dinner-time we come into the air conditioned house and feel like we are walking into a refrigerator. We drip all the way to the bathroom where we change into summer clothes: shorts, a sundress maybe. They feel warm and soft to our pruny skin.

Summer days are as lingering as our shadows that extend long and thin in the orange sunset. Will this time of bare feet, sunburns, and corn on the cob last forever? Will there always be sprinklers greening the grass and roses blooming in the neighbor’s yard? No, we know that this is only a season. Soon the earth will careen a bit further around the sun and it will be a time of other things because “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Whether it’s birth or death, planting or harvest, laughing or weeping, it has all happened before and it will all happen again. Yet somehow the slant of early morning shadows will always seem new. The feel of soft grass to my naked feet, the touch of a warm breeze on my bare arm, my father-in-law’s grilled hamburgers... they sort of make life worth living.

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