Friday, June 14, 2013

Summer, a rediscovery.

There have been so many moments this past week that reminded me of summer.
Well, it sort of is pretty much summer, you might be say, and that would be true.
But like most grown-ups, I tuned out seasons for a lot of years. And then I had kids, and when I'd open my windows or step outside, I had feelings -- little things, like a particular kind of melty breeze reminded me of Easter time, or snow stinging my cheeks during sledding reminded me of Christmas Eve.
That was what happened at first.
It keeps getting stronger.
And this week ...

We visited the springs near out house. It's a short drive, but somehow a complete exit from city -- it's close to where I grew up and where my grandparents lived, and my life tied to them -- that's where the memories seem to rest. (Christmas Eve meant their fireplace crackling and Oyster stew on the stove. Easter meant church we all went to church, and when we arrived at their house for dinner, I'd receive a little basket that contained a Fanny May chocolate bunny.)

And summers -- they were packed with the kind of days that seemed like nothing special, really, until the memories started slowly coming back, and I realized they defined a growing-up.

At the springs, it was the smell of grass. Not cut grass, even, but just the green thereness of grass, and it evoked Saturdays spent on a front porch with my sister. (We'd drink Country Time lemonade made from powder and eat Schwann's ice cream bars. We'd ride bikes in the circle drive-way.)

After a dip in the springs we hiked, and when we met the river I told my kids about fishing with my dad and grandpa. We walked past familiar weeds and wildflowers; the white sycamores and the tall grasses brought me back to the backyard woods where a native American chief was supposedly buried (a college group came out once to dig around). I both wanted them to find something, and I wanted them to leave the chief alone. He was ours, whether he was really there or not, because my grandpa believed.

The springs visit was proceeded by the discovery of a mulberry tree in our yard this week -- something that took me by surprise in the best way -- something I felt so excited to share with my own kids.
The taste of that first mulberry was like a little bite of skinned knees and long braids, as I remembered stuffing handfuls of berries in my terrycloth pockets.

And then today at lunch with my mom, there was the recollection of the laundry hamper -- and my reading nook in the closet, where I would tuck in after lunch and stay until someone came to get me, or until I finished my daily book.

I still love reading after lunch. I still love little spaces. I don't think there's anything that makes me feel safer than the combination of the two. It feels like home.

And so this week brings with it the overwhelming feeling that summer is near, and that it will be gone soon too -- in a blink the leaves will turn crispy, and with them, a whole other set of memories may come rushing forward.

For now there's this moment, this opportunity for grass and mud and cheap mysteries, bike rides and ice cream bars and dreams -- sweaty, middle-of-the-day, in front of the fan dreams.

I know it can never be again, except when it momentarily is. 

And then, it's oh so fleeting; but all the sweeter when concentrated down to its essence -- everything that mattered, and everything that remains.

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