“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is no means a waste of time.” – John Lubbock, The Use of Life
“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.” – Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy -Tacy and Tib
“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer – one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going – one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends, and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.” – L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams
Whether it was due to our interminable winter with its gusting winds and bitter cold, or because at the beginning of April, 2018 after innumerable attempts, my son had succeeded in convincing me to construct a deck onto the front entrance of my house, by this spring I could hardly wait to enjoy my new outdoor patio. I reside on a corner lot and every year, I have diligently planted trees until I have created my own forest. A variety of some thirty plus trees and shrubs totally surround my home with the subsequent consequence that grass and plants do not have much of a hope of surviving. However, since I neglected to prune two globe cedars outside my large living room window that had been planted before I moved in, they had grown very tall – higher than my eavestroughs. When I consulted an arborist, I was soundly informed that my cedars were far too damaged, too unruly, and too old, in short they had suffered sufficient dieback to no longer be salvageable.
Subsequently, I consented to have them razed to the ground, and replaced with new stairs and a deck. The backstory is that because of time commitments and other circumstances my beautiful seven by fourteen foot pressed cedar deck with clear glass panels was not completed until the middle of last November. I’m sure that my readers can appreciate my enthused anticipation of stepping out of my front door onto this beautiful attachment which adds a welcome dimension to my home of thirty-nine years. The first day of spring had only just arrived, sunny and warm, and then the weather turned. Not as inclement as to what we had become accustomed, but not nearly pleasant enough to spend the afternoons basking in the sunshine and reading on my deck. Nearly a month would pass before my kind-heartened neighbour, a most impressive handyman assembled the wicker chairs, glass-topped table, and storage chest I had purchased. My dreams of enjoying every summer morning drinking my coffee and responding to my emails in my forested yard were coming to fruition.
I have always thought that ‘summer’ is such a lovely sounding word, perhaps because of the magical images it conjures in my mind, and given the ease with which I found these auspicious quotations, I am not alone in my thoughts. Summer is defined as “the warmest of the four temperate seasons in the northern hemisphere falling between spring and the autumnal equinox. At the summer solstice, the days are longest and the nights shortest, with day length decreasing as the season progresses after the solstice. The date of the beginning of summer varies according to climate, tradition, and culture.” As informative as this prosaic definition is, it does little to stimulate the imagination and longing for the beauty, enjoyment, and serenity of summer.
From an early age, and certainly by the time we have started school, most of us have come to appreciate the arrival of summer. With the warming weather flickers the anticipation of the end of being inside seated in a classroom when the sights, sounds, colours, activities, and relaxation of the outdoors beckon. Summer is a time to travel, to camp in the wilderness, to bask in the sun on the sandy shores of the beach, to partake in a multitude of water sports, to gather with family and friends for picnics and barbecues, and to rejoice in the bounty of life. Summer is the season that heals our winter wounds, eradicates our fears, and heralds a new beginning.
Nature flourishes with a lushness that is a feast for the senses. Whenever possible, I can be found hiking in the woods rejuvenating my body, stimulating my mind, and restoring my soul, and might even be heard quoting Henry David Thoreau, “I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” It is summer when I most often experience serenity – that state of being calm and peaceful, that time when I savour my rich heritage of memories. Some of my fondest moments of summer had occurred during my years of providing child care for my grandson, who from the time he could walk, proved to be an energetic, robust, and imaginative boy. The hours of our days together were invigorating, but long, and often on balmy days we would lie on the grassy carpet in his backyard under the crabapple tree to speculate about the shapes of the fluffy gigantic cumulus clouds adrift in the azure sky. What could be more serene?
May you find serenity this summer.