Monday, July 18, 2016

A Mid-Summer Daydream

June had almost ended by the time I finally prepared my enclosed porch for use. I usually do it much sooner, as the warmer temperatures invite many moments of reclining with coffee and a book, or meals at our patio table. I dragged my feet on doing the needed clean-up this year, with no real reason for the delay other than basic busyness: the first month of summer had been spent flying from classes for the kids to the church's Vacation Bible School to Florida and back again.

The 4th of July finally served as my motivation. Grilled burgers at the table while a cool breeze passes through the screened windows reminded me why I relish time spent in this space so much.

I make no secret that I am chiefly an autumn person. I love the cooler air and college football and hoodies and Halloween and Thanksgiving. I don't even mind raking leaves that much. It comes with the territory; a small price to pay for the joy those months bring.

But lately I've remembered why I used to prefer summer. It meant a month or more palling around with my cousin and brother in my grandparents' neighborhood in New Jersey. It featured many trips to the beach just as it does now. It meant riding bikes along a tarred gravel road and watching the wind blow waves through the grass by the parsonage in which we lived.

It still means those things. But it's different now, of course.

Now I listen to my daughter giggle as I push her on the swing in our backyard, while my son explores the wooded area next to our house. I prepare brats and corn on the grill while inspecting the dark maroon branches of our Japanese maple. I walk down to the church on pleasant mornings, sipping water while feeling the sun on my back. And I steal a little time on the porch to finish the next chapter.

Summer isn't the same as it was growing up. It's a little less care-free than it used to be. I suppose I could trace that lost innocence all the way back to high school when summer was dictated more by a work schedule than riding down to buy baseball cards in Tenafly. Those were days of drawing and imagining under the shade provided by thick, tall trees, swapping songs and dubbing them onto Memorex cassettes, slowly awakening to our interest in girls. We were discovering life in all its joy, but also a little of its disappointments and limitations.

I've always wished for the feeling of those years again. These days I help create memories for my kids instead, watching them enjoy the wind and sun both home and in beach sand. I drive Coffeeson to his friend's house for long afternoons of LEGOs and video games. I walk with Coffeedaughter while she pushes herself along the road on her tricycle (she hasn't fully managed peddling yet, you see). They're using these months to learn, grow, and explore just as I had.

They seem to love summer. Watching them helps me remember why I loved it, too.

So I watch them while I fire up the grill or recline on our porch glider and love it in a different way.