The summer I want it to be
I went looking for summer.
I’ve been looking for a month, trying to find, not the summer that is defined in the dictionary, but summer as I want it to be.
I found something of summer today in the beautiful wild flowers, the Queen Anne’s lace, the chicory, sedges, Oxeye Daisies and the orange day lilies as they swayed in the wind that flowed over the hills up from Otisco Lake.
Today I picked black raspberries.
Birds, buzzing insects and a neighbors chicken sang a summer song as I scanned the thick rows of raspberry vines.
The berries are trained up over wire, but nothing else is different from youthful berry picking in the hedgerows of Kent except here the owner cuts the grasses between the rows. The burdocks, milkweed, daisies, stately mulleins, white sweet clover, purple flowered thistles, dandelions and other unidentified flora fill in and around the bushes.
The odd weather has been hard on these relatives of roses and picking is a tad bit more difficult than it was last year, but it is so worth the time and effort. The berries will become summer in jars. Jams to eat over the cool autumn days and winter nights and, if I am more energetic this weekend, enough for a pie, now. This is the only righteous work of my elusive summer.
My summer is an idea that seems to slip around the corners of my searching, even as I reach out to grasp it.
It has something to do with days that last for weeks. Summer’s plans are no plans, a spontaneity that allows for gardening when you want, for reading what you will, for easy meals that require little preparation and minimal clean up.
Summer’s music is like that wind that flows up out of the glacial valleys of the Finger Lakes, easy sometimes, sometimes dramatic.
It’s silly songs, some that I remember from my youth.
It is gentle rains and storms that send you inside but mostly it’s sunny days when clothing is easy, when flip flops and water shoes are appropriate.
It’s shade on those sunny days and cool lemonade or iced tea on porches, casual conversations about inconsequential things and laughter. It’s ice cream in cones and big cups. It is slow meanders to nowhere.
It’s capturing moments along a stream with an ear for the special sound that only moving water can make, remembering days when you hunted for pollywogs or believed that the shiny sand at the bottom of the stream was really gold…or watching birds loop in the air, settle into the trees, fly in formation to a cadence you cannot hear.
It’s listening to the crows talk about crow things and going fishing in a flat bottom boat, the oars up, dripping another water beat.
It’s summer romance on velvet evenings when you danced to lantern light in cotton dresses. It’s ending the season with knowing promises that keeping in touch fades with the length of days.
Summers subtle essence is personal, gathering up old memories of purposeless languid time when the season and the person were one, a carefree existence lost to time.
The search brings a dimension to the now summer, a wistfulness, a need to hold on to the untroubled nature of the personal season, modifying the distances between what we have and what we seek.
It is worth the effort.