Where Did the Summer Go
By Lois Hoffman
The “good ol’ days of summer” are once again upon us. How can they be and, even more so, how can the summer be half over? We ponder over the seed catalogs during long dreary winter days and it seems that summer days will never get here and now in a couple months we will be looking at the early days of fall. Whoever referred to this season as the “lazy days of summer” certainly was not part of my world, nor in the world of many of my friends. We are all asking, “Where did the summer go?”
Every year for the past 30 years when I reach summer’s midpoint I promise myself the same thing, that I’ll get a few extra things done this year so next year I will have more free time to enjoy some of those warm weather things that have always been on my bucket list. This year is no different, I just caught myself uttering those same words for next year.
I really thought that last year would be the year. I retired, so I had 40 extra hours a week to work everything in. Right. Last year I did my first, and last, garage sale to get rid of extra “stuff” and to get everything in order. This was no ordinary garage sale, for it entailed cleaning out the main house, basement, garage and barn. Then, as if that were not enough for one year, we completely redid three rooms in the house. By the way, the painted border that I decided to do in the bedroom that would take a couple days in the winter is still only a quarter done.
So, what happened to this year? I think the garden grew a little bit larger, because I would have extra time. I decided to take out a few rock piles and turn them back into yard, to save a little time weeding. I brought three car loads of hostas 180 miles to plant around trees, to make mowing easier and save a little time. I decided to clean 30 years’ worth of brush and debris away from the big barn, because I had extra time.
I guess all those projects I added, because I had extra time, used up my extra time. I like to be busy, but this is a little ridiculous. I love bonfires. So far this year we have had none. I have not gone fishing yet, we have not even gotten away for a couple days of vacation. Something is definitely wrong with this picture.
I only take comfort in knowing that it is not just me. I cannot count the number of friends we have talked to whom we would like to catch up with who say the same thing, “Where has the summer gone?”
The saddest part of all is that we have been trying to find a couple of days to take the grandsons and do something together. As a kid, I remember working in the garden and truck patch nearly everyday but still having time to swim, fish, and all the other things kids do when out of school. It is a different world today. Ball games aren’t just for a few weeks in the summer, many kids play well into the fall. There are summer programs at the school that run through most of the summer and when they are done, football practice for the fall season starts in August. What summer vacation?
I think next year in January I am going to pin the grandkids down for a couple days for the following summer. After all, grandparents need to get on the list just like baseball and other events.
There are some things we cannot change. I have tried staggering the garden planting so things ripen at different times instead of all at once. It doesn’t work. Every year everything is ready to harvest at the same time. I could remedy that by not having a garden at all, but when you weigh not having one compared to the joy and fruits it offers, there is no contest. For me, the garden has always been a place of peace and calm and never a burden, even though there is work involved.
So, maybe I’ll have to work on actually enjoying more pleasures of what summer’s short season has to offer. I know it sounds absurd to have to work at enjoying something but there is only so much time in a day and if we are not careful, we fill it with all work and no play. Working is never bad, but if you don’t enjoy it along the way, then what is the point of it all.
Sometimes little things can make a huge difference. A few years ago a storm took down limbs, which in turn took down my clothesline. This year I have one for the first time in a long time and I have neglected it because, in the interest of time, it is quicker to throw the clothes in the dryer. But the other day I hung the sheets on the line. I had almost forgotten how good they smell drying in the fresh air, how fresh and clean. The bonus is that I can enjoy the early morning hours while hanging the clothes out instead of being inside doing other mundane tasks that I can always fit in later.
I have been taking more walks. Yes, I want the exercise but, more importantly, I crave the peace and solitude that a walk in the country through the fields and woods brings to the soul. Call me crazy, but fence posts have always fascinated me. Many of the old fence posts, made from logs and limbs, still stand in rural areas in the Midwest.
No two of these are alike and, for someone with an active imagination, they take on shapes and forms that resemble other objects. When I was a kid, I was scared of these, as they reminded me of guys standing guard, ready to frighten little kids. Now, they remind me of something that has stood the test of time and seen it all. The land may change hands and fields may change but fence posts are steadfast. They are a gentle reminder of whose land is whose and yet invite neighbors to come together to chat a while. There is nothing better than an early morning or late evening walk with these in the foreground of a gorgeous sunrise or sunset.
I have taken time this year to watch the fireflies at dusk. Especially after a long, productive day there is nothing better than to sit on the swing with a cool drink and watch the enchanted fields.
I know in the back of my mind that it is all about balance. Summer is a busy time and projects need to get done as do certain chores, but there should always be time to enjoy this magical season because it doesn’t last forever. Perhaps that is part of the beauty, enjoying summer is a gift you give yourself. When we give ourselves permission to enjoy more clotheslines and fence posts, we maybe won’t have to ask ourselves, “Where did the summer go?”
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