Ask school-age children which season is their fav, nine out of 10 will trumpet, “summer!” without skipping a beat. With adults, it’s not always so clear. Our sensibilities have been both refined and broadened by time. Other seasonal passions like spring gardening, fall leaf peeping and winter skiing may have knocked summer down a notch or two. But I believe if we take a moment to really think about Summer and all it entails, the old excitement will begin to stir anew. There’s an awful lot to be grateful for about summer.
Please take time with me to welcome the season by honoring a few favorite memories from summers’ past. If you close your eyes, each memory—how it tastes, smells, looks and feels—becomes more vivid.
- Sleeping in. Remember how the stress of school began to vanish as the reality of not having to get up sunk in? How good did that bed feel!
- Splashing in the pool. Oh joy! That first dip of the season—brrr!
- Getting lost in a novel stretched out in the hammock. A glass of lemonade, tucked under the hammock and hidden from the sun, heightened the pleasure.
- The sweet, clover smell of freshly cut grass. It telegraphed ease.
- Drippy, syrupy cherry snow cones. How long were the lines at your snow cone place? I never made it home without my top stained a bright cherry red, the shape of India.
- The unhurried pleasure of picnics. Is there a favorite blanket of your mom’s in your picnic memory? Or a special food? My grandmother’s pink wedding-ring-pattern quilt and my mother’s unbeatable fried chicken are fixtures in mine.
- Chasing fireflies. I wonder, was catching them even the object?
- The anticipation and adventure of family vacations. I always had butterflies trying to get to sleep the night before!
- Grilling—how the entire neighborhood smelled of charcoal at a certain time each evening, a smoke-signals message to us kids to ride our bikes home, and how comforting and exciting that was all at the same time.
- Nights lying on a blanket in the back yard and meditating on the miracle of the vast glittering sky. Maybe those were my first existential experiences. They definitely gave me a sense of proportion and wonder.
- The annual blast of fireworks. Did your family celebrate the Fourth with special traditions? Homemade ice cream and bouquets of fresh-cut roses were among ours.
Now that I think about it, most of those pleasures haven’t faded much over time. Though summer no longer grants me the luxury of sleeping in, it does present a more leisurely tempo. When the weather warms up, the pace slows down at our home in Naples, Florida. Summer signals the end of the Gulf Coast’s busy season. Vacationers and snow birds alike seek cooler climes, leaving the restaurants, roads, and beaches less crowded. There’s a sense of unhurriedness that the season ushers in, not unlike the feeling I remember from my girlhood. I can still appreciate a snow cone on a hot day, but now I also enjoy the season’s first margarita and G&T. And now I’m the one who gets to shape the family traditions and conceive new ones for picnics, glamping, vacations and holidays like Memorial Day and the Fourth. And throw impromptu parties for no good reason other than just because. I no longer chase the fireflies, but I do play a game with myself of looking for them, predicting where their next light will appear. I still love being in water when it’s hot outside, and a summer read curled up in a hammock remains the absolute best. And every time I catch a whiff of just-cut grass, I’m instantly awash with a sense of peace and security that I hope each of you will share with me this beautiful, blessed amazing summer.