In my journal, along with my daily musings, I record the time of sunrise and sunset. On June 21st, the sun rose at 5:25 AM, exactly one minute later than the day before. As my husband was pouring his coffee that morning, he announced, joyfully, “It’s the official first day of summer!”
“Yes!” I smiled. “I know!” I was happy, too, for I knew, by my daily record keeping, that from now on, the days would be getting shorter by one minute. And that meant that June 21st marked the beginning of the end of summer.
I have a love-hate relationship with summer. I love the balmy summer mornings and cool summer evenings. I can do without the rest of the day. My morning walks are planned so that I reach a certain spot in my neighborhood a few minutes before sunrise. There, I can sit on a bench overlooking the Great South Bay, relaxing and meditating to the sounds of gently lapping water and the avian chatter of shore birds while soaking in the majestic sunrise. Once the sun is up, I walk back home, and, if it was up to me, I would be done for the day with the outdoors.
But I am married to a man who wants to be outside every chance he can. He’s retired now, and he says he’s making up for lost time spent working in an office for the past 50 years. Every day, we check the weather and we both see the same report, but each of us has a very different reaction.
“Another beautiful day!” my husband beams as he reads the forecast out loud to me. “The beach is the best place to be on a day like this.” He snaps the paper shut. “Whaddya say?”
I’m thinking the air-conditioned house is the best place to be on a day like this, but I dare not utter the words. After all, it is summer and we have to enjoy the outdoors whether we like it or not.
I lift my eyes up to the sky, searching, hoping to find a cloud or two. “Still no rain in the forecast?” I sigh. “Are you sure? I think I see a cloud on the horizon.”
“There’s no rain in the forecast for weeks!” he says, happily.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the beach, but from June to September all my other interests get pushed aside because I feel guilty staying indoors when the sun is shining. How can I hide in my room and write the great American novel when the sun is shining brightly outside and the grandkids are standing on the dock with beach towels and coolers looking up at my window calling, “Grandma! We’re waiting for you! Aren’t you ready yet?”
I can’t sit at my sewing machine and peacefully work on my next magnificent quilt when the temperature is a sunny 85 degrees and my husband is already in his bathing suit asking, “Do you have any idea when you might be ready to go on the boat?”
Call me weird, but I love rainy days; a windy nor’easter is even better. I get a thrill when I see the first frost on the lawn and feel a nip in the air. I long for chilly winter mornings when I rise in the dark before dawn to write in my journal by candlelight, warming my fingers around that first cup of hot coffee. I yearn to sit by the fire, curled up under a blanket with a good book and a hot cup of tea. I want to bake bread and set up a pot of soup to simmer while the wind howls and the snow blows into impassable drifts outside.
These quiet activities nourish my soul in the fall and winter months, but they are not things I can do in the summer – not as long as the sun is shining and the boat engine is running and folks are waiting on the dock for me to come outside and play – whether I like it or not.