My 16 year old daughter adjusts the visor, her eyes are now shaded, but the streaks of the sun are still washing the ends of her burnished gold hair. His hands grip 10 and 2, polished chipped by his guitar. She arrives Taylor Swift and she turns on our street. Taylor hums,
I can’t think of all the cost
And the things that will be lost
Oh, can we just take a break?
My breath stops, tears come to my eyes. When did Izzie need to move the driver’s seat back? Were her legs always longer than mine?
It is the beginning of summer but the end of an era.
My Leo soul awaits the return of summer all year round. My true spirit emerges with the fireflies, with that peculiar ozone smell of the first storm in June. But melancholy is for Labor Day, not the solstice. This year, summer has just arrived and I already mourn his eventual departure. Although the days are longer, they are ending too quickly. The word solstice literally means to stand still, but it is an illusion. I feel the inexorable march of time, an attraction to create memories before it wanders away into an existence further out of my reach, in days when I am less needed.
Here is what I know for sure. Time allows magic if we allow time. Summer is a season, but also a state of mind. We have to make this summer a memorable one.
The ant was right. But the grasshopper too. The ant denounces all laziness, but for what purpose? Unless you’re the queen, most ants only live a few weeks. We need to plan for the future, but also sing, dance and play the violin while the sun is shining. I think of Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day, where she watches a grasshopper eat sugar from her hand.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I know how to be careful, how to fall in the grass,
How to kneel in the grass,
How to be idle and blessed, how to walk in the fields,
This is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Thinking towards the future has its place. At our weekly family reunion, I suggest everyone plan something this summer that’s just right for them; this seems especially important after canceling all of our plans during quarantine. I reserve a weekend at Snug Hollow to write. David buys tickets to a heavy metal festival in London, Kentucky (Holler of Doom, which you can’t even say out loud without screaming and doing the death metal salute). Izzie enrolls in a sewing camp, intending to finally learn how to use a sewing machine. We buy fresh flowers every week for the kitchen. Purchase an umbrella for the swivel chairs in the backyard. Try to make our refuge our paradise. Make plans to create memories.
But the plans don’t go far. The truest moments happen spontaneously, cannot be traced or made up by the diligent ant. We are only promised the present moment, so why not accept the gift that it is? While the poor ant dies within a few weeks, the life expectancy of a grasshopper is close to 90 days. A whole summer of life. It feels like a cosmic boost to be busy living.
I am doing something new. I cancel clients and classes throughout the summer so I have blocks of time each week without any plans. It was a huge milestone for this workaholic (hopefully recovering). I hate to disappoint my students as much as I love keeping busy and making money. My mind is an ant, but my heart is a grasshopper.
Next summer, Izzie will have both a license and a job, her first attempt at living the ant life. So this season we will be skipping. May this season be hammocks and books. Summer dresses, sandals and sunscreen. Tomato sandwiches, solar tea, cold watermelon. Ice cream and movie dates and chlorine-soaked towels hung from the handrail. Long afternoons watching the Olympics, Izzie’s legs tangled in mine on the couch, Barkley on the floor to be closer to the vent. Whether it’s rainy day puzzles and morning hikes and looking through the leaves of our catalpa tree. S’mores and strummed guitars around the fireplace.
And maybe the grasshoppers will rub their legs together to play the save.