by Julia Buckley
The new school year begins today, which is mainly a good thing. I become too sedentary in summer, especially since my main projects include sitting and writing, sitting and reading, and sitting and thinking. The prolonged sitting is not healthy, and my job guarantees that I will be up and down staircases all day long, not to mention burning calories with my popular and animated lectures. Okay, that last one was a fantasy--except that I do become animated when I talk about literature.
In any case, I will be bidding farewell to summer as I knew it. I decided to devote some time to the things I will miss the most about the summer of 2009.
1. Watching the fascinating behaviors of my cats. I thought I was sedentary over the summer! These three creatures seem to spend about an hour in the morning playing intensely--lots of running and ambushing of one another, with fiendish attempts to knock down my breakables along the way. After that, it's siesta time. They have their favorite spots (generally in the sun), and they settle there for long, long naps. Occasionally they stretch and emerge to crunch some food and do a basic house-check. Then it's time for a new nap location and more serious sleeping. This is Rose, the only other girl in the house.
These two are Pibby Tails and Mr. Mulliner.
2. Reading in bed. In summer, when I know I don't have to get up ultra early in the morning, I can devote myself to night-time mysteries and stay up late pursuing answers. I try this in fall, too, but no matter how interesting the book, I tend to fall asleep after less than a chapter. What's the first sign that I'm falling asleep over a book? Waking up with my face smashed into the pages. :)
3. Walking the dog. The poor Beagle doesn't get too many walks during the school year; he's just sent into the back yard and told to do what needs to be done. In summer we have far more time to investigate the neighborhood and, in his case, to sniff every leaf, every interesting blade of grass, every rock or bit of bark he encounters with his long and curious nose. It's fun, though, marching along and watching his tail wag as he gets his daily adventure.
4. Keeping the house clean. In the long and lovely summer, I have leisure to do the basic chores--keeping up with the dishes and the vacuuming and the clutter control. Once we're all back at work and school, this goes out the window, and our house takes on the look of a junk shop with living quarters above it.
5. Lazing with the boys. There's a lot more time to chat with the children during summer, especially if we're all just lazing around on a day with no obligations. These are the days you can ask fun hypothetical questions like "Where would you live if you could live anywhere?" and really spend time on the answers. During the busy year, I mostly ask them things like "What do you have for homework?" and "Did you do your homework?" and "Are you on Facebook instead of doing your homework?" Definitely not as fun.
Here the boys enjoy their two favorite things: the computer, and their fat cat.
6. Lunch with friends. I actually got to meet up with some colleagues this summer at various luncheon dates; this sort of thing is never possible during the year, when the calendar fills up with endless work and school obligations, not to mention all the important social occasions (family birthdays and weddings!) which eat up the weekends and make me feel a bit incarcerated within my engagements.
7. Long evenings. How nice it is, in summer, to realize at eight-o-clock that the night is still young, and that if we want to take a walk or jump in the car for an ice-cream run, it is entirely feasible. In fact, once out and about, we often see that the streets are filled with people who had the same idea. Once the evenings become short and dark, the day feels much shorter and, sometimes, sadder.
Here's a shot I took on a recent summer night.
8. Enjoying the front porch. I spent part of my summer cleaning the porch and hanging up these party lights. I dragged my family out there on many occasions and we pretended we were in some tropical and beautiful place. My husband made rum-free coladas for the boys and rum-ful ones for me, and we told stories or played cards or Apples to Apples, the game my son got for his birthday.
9. Mowing the lawn. You might think this sounds weird; in Thornton Wilder's OUR TOWN, the Stage Manager comments that "One man in ten thinks it's a privilege to mow his own lawn." There are various ways of interpreting that line, but I suppose it comes down to whether you view mowing the lawn as work or as play. I guess I fall somewhere in between. I like maintaining my yard in summer because I get the rewards of all the scents and sounds that mowing the lawn brings, not to mention the pleasant visual of newly-shorn grass.
10. Netflix watch-instantly movies. I really don't get much tv time during the year, but this summer I found pockets of time that I had all to myself. Thanks to the view-instantly feature on Netflix, I occasionally got to take my laptop in one corner and watch a romantic comedy that my boys would never agree to watch in the big tv. It was my little treat to myself, just like every good book is a treat, and it was fun. It took me back to the days of my childhood when my mother, my sister and I would watch the afternoon movie after school--our little reward for a day of hard work and something leisurely to do while dinner simmered on the stove.
Well, enough of my summer thoughts; it's time for me to focus on fall. What were the best things about your summers?
(photos: all taken by me this summer! 2009)