I’m clinging fiercely to summer. Vacation is over, school is well underway, the work load is mounting, tree tops are glowing yellow-orange and the early mornings bear a distinct chill. Still, I’m celebrating summer. Not the sticky heat of the season or it’s bug filled evenings. Its the attitude we adopt every summer that I’m keeping close to my heart.
The farmer’s markets burgeon with the bounty of summer. Tomatoes, basil, peaches, eggplants, squash, corn and figs jostle for space with the new apples and pears that announce the change of season. As days gradually get shorter and sweaters are resurrected, our minds start looking ahead to Halloween, Thanksgiving and further on. The pace picks up. Summer quickly becomes a distant memory. While my favorite seasons are spring and fall ( in that order ), it is the summer mentality that I wish we would hold on to for ever.
How is it that one automatically relaxes and lightens up in this time of school breaks, fireflies and fireworks? How is it we are so willing to put up with humidity, bad hair days, mosquito bites, sun burn, jelly fish and, monster weeds? Could it be the extra hours of sunshine, the higher temperatures, the fresh produce, bare feet and open beaches? We smile more, complain less and savor the days of this light filled trimester with an eagerness rivaled only by children on Christmas morning. Wish we could be this way forever. But alas, all good things must come to an end. Must they?
I seek my answer in the garden. Here lies the nexus of seasons. While the hydrangea are in full bloom, the asters are beginning to open. As the tomatoes ripen, the grapes are ready for harvest. The apples turn rosy while the pelargoniums show no sign of fading. Seed pods rattle and ornamental grasses swish. Birds get ready for long flights as squirrels prepare to settle down. Roses still blush when bees come calling. Things do not stop in the garden. Life continues in all its rich ways. As one season comes to a close, another starts. It is all good. Appreciating what is happening right now only to welcome what comes next is what the garden is instructing me to do. The cycle of seasons is eternal so there is no need for tearful adieus to summer. After all, would I pause to appreciate a fresh fig if I could pluck one off the tree all through the year?
Instead, I gather basil so there is pesto to flavor the meals that will warm us after a brisk snow fight. The concord grapes are transformed into jam for the many sandwiches that will be consumed through the school year. Arm loads of hydrangea are dried for arrangements at the Thanksgiving table. Seeds are collected for next years crops of chillies, sweet Williams, tomatoes, nasturtiums and peas. One grows pumpkins in summer but they are ready only in autumn. Bulbs are planted in autumn so we have a display in spring but first, a necessary winter must be passed . One season continues into another.
It is simply about embracing fully what each moment has to offer. Take one’s fill of it. The effects will linger and perfume the times still to come.
While I cannot avoid my work related obligations, the daily slew of emails marked high priority, garden chores that are time sensitive or the pressures of an ever lengthening to-do list, I can approach them with the temperament of summer. I will factor in the down time we usually allow ourselves for that one season into all of the others. Be more laid back, less compelled to enforce self-imposed rules and deadlines. There is always time to enjoy every last drop of morning coffee, to push back from my desk and catch up with my daughter’s doings, to watch the moon rise, to have a proper conversation with my husband, to listen to my heart and acknowledge the miracle that is life. Every day.
Summer lives forever. Vive l’été.
(c) 2013 Shobha Vanchiswar