“In early June the world of leaf and blade and flowers explodes,
and every sunset is different.”
— John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontentment
June, June, June, I mused. When did I last give Booker his flea and tick stuff? Moving to the calendar I flipped back to May’s dates and activities. Dang, I hadn’t jotted down the deed. Usually, I put a sticker or something on the calendar as a visual pat on the back for remembering. (Yes, I am old school and love a paper, flip-month-to-month, calendar. And yes, I need all the help I can get to remember things. Thank you VERY much, menopause.)
I stared at the little squares, numbers, and notes on the page for a few moments when it hit me…June has its landing gear down, and the great pilot in the sky is suggesting we put up our trays and put on our seatbelts. July is on the horizon.
Already. Whaa? When?
Booker’s needs aside, I felt the prickles of uneasiness. Sometimes it takes something routine—like dog upkeep—to realize the passing of time. Didn’t the first spring flowers just open their bright blooms to those of us impoverished by a long winter? Wasn’t I just standing at my father’s grave on Memorial Day? Yes, and yes. Why does February last forever while June is about as long as a well placed mosquito slap? Thwap. Done.
And for heaven’s sake, please stop doing a countdown until the Minnesota State Fair! It’s cruel.
In a recent magazine article, the editor mentioned he had learned to avoid “summer is but a flash” sadness by ignoring our human-determined calendar. He mentally chooses when summer starts and ends, and his summer is a heck of a lot longer than the one we are allotted in Minnesota. The idea intrigued me. It also reminded me of something…
When I was a child my father gave me permission to go barefoot as soon as the first dandelion appeared. It drove my grandmother crazy because she was certain I’d end up with Sasquatch feet given my lack of proper footwear all summer long. But that’s the thing!
Back then my childhood summer started as soon as I could go barefoot and lasted until the school bus rumbled up our gravel driveway in the fall. (In the old days, the primordial ooze days, school usually started after Labor Day. And everybody knows that once school began we all had to walk uphill, through six-foot snowdrifts, with boots lined in bread wrappers. At least that’s what my grandmother said.)
As a kid, I didn’t look at a calendar. I didn’t care about days getting shorter, again, after the summer solstice. I just enjoyed the wonders of being and discovering while the sun shone and the days felt free. Have I lost those feelings? I pray not.
In a recent blog post, I mentioned going to Mom’s grave to let her have her last cigarette. My niece and two of her young children came up from the Twin Cities to be part of the celebration, which was a nice surprise.
Watching the children run in the grassy meadow of the graveyard was delightful. The toddler was barefoot, and soon his toes were decorated with clover blossoms. The two young’uns investigated various bugs, smiled up at the sky when an occasional raindrop fell and absorbed earth’s offerings. It seemed everything was vivid and fascinating to their young eyes.
Where did I fall in the continuum?
Do I see, really see, the wonders around me?
Why wasn’t I barefoot with flowers in my Sasquatch feet toes?
Maybe our Minnesota summers wouldn’t feel so short if I’d push past the perimeters of cultural negativity (July 4th? Summer is OVER!), or if I’d see through the eyes of a toddler.
It’s worth remembering that we get to write our own story, and that not just the endings need be happy.
It’s also worth remembering when I last gave Booker his flea and tick goop. Argh.