I slip into a tank top and biking shorts. I grab a biking shirt just in case the weather cools more than expected. Since we delayed our bike ride to stay out of the summer sun, it's after 7:00 p.m. when we hit the road.
But the weather is still sensationally, gloriously, warm. We are surrounded by little clouds breaking off from a dark mass in the distance. Lightning strikes send diabolical pitch forks through the sky.
At the end of our ride is our daughter's garden. She is on vacation, so we've come to pick the abundance her travels will provide for us. Tony wrestles a big cabbage from its roots. Kale is flourishing. Not knowing when we'll return, I pick a yellow crookneck before it takes over the world. Tomatoes are lovely but still green. I pick a handful of raspberries hoping most of them won't ripen until her return.
Before she left, our daughter and her children came for an afternoon swim. After the exuberance, they climbed out of the pool hungry and headed into the berry patches. Knowing they were coming, I hadn't picked for days so there would be plenty. She was joined by her sister who'd just finished a long day of school and was hungry too.
I sat on the stairs and watched the children bend, pluck, and indulge in the lusciousness of black, red, and golden raspberries, and boysenberries. Little Theo, so low to the ground, squatted and planted his mouth around a boysenberry. The sisters rushed to each plant with the same urgency and competitiveness that emerges at the annual Easter egg hunt.
"I LOVE SUMMER," I call out to Tony while riding our bikes home. We're unsure if we we'll dodge the summer storm. If we catch a downpour, at least I will be warm. I chide myself for bringing an extra shirt...I'm still stuck in spring.
When we peddle into the driveway, park the bikes, I suggest a swim. It's almost dark and I prepare myself for the cool water. But as I glide into the water, it's bathtub warm. The 100 degree weather that afternoon, has left the pool feeling like a hot tub. Ahhhh, the wonderful summer sun.
"School starts in a month," Tony reminds me. The spell is broken, and in my mind I feel the chill of fall, see the pool covered in snow, and shiver at the uncertainty of spring. I resent all the other seasons who overtake summer like a gang of rabid dogs.
I love summer, I love summer, I love summer.
It almost feels futile to love something so fleeting, sooooo much. Especially when summer is only one quarter of my life.
The ratio of things I absolutely love to the things I tolerate, endure, and disdain, is probably 1/4 too. At only 25%, that leaves 75% of my time outside the inner circle of happiness and bliss.
That's too much time to spend on the sidelines resenting that I'm not in the game bouncing the ball myself. How did I get here, how do I get out, and has it always been this way? How do I enjoy the 3/4 parts of my life that aren't in the water, on the trail, or in the garden? How do I change just-getting-through-the-winter into embracing the cold, the snow, the diverse beauty?
It's funny how the seasons mimic the cycles of life.
This is where I look for inspiration.
I am in the fall of life. Summer passed long ago. How have I gone from summer, motherhood and skiing-hard to middle-age fall?
I've adapted. Fall is grand-mothering, a quiet house, walking instead of running, and a bike with a motor. Winter will be great grand-mothering, hiking with poles, a stronger prescription for glasses. Less demands, and more demands in unexpected ways.
The seasons provide a way to practice the fine art of adaptation. Put on a sweater, a cap. Wrap the beehives in anticipation. Bring out the snow boots and put on the snow tires. Line the snow shovels against the garage. Wait 'til the ground softens to till. Plant the radishes and the peas. Patience, patience, to plant the tomatoes. Patience, patience, when Tony can't hear me, when I have to lean in a little closer and ask, "Can you speak a little louder?"--patience when I've forgotten where my phone is. Patience is essential to adaptation.
~I take a break from writing, from the questions I cannot answer, to pick raspberries for morning scones. As I squat in the early morning peace and cool, I'm struck by the beauty of a single raspberry. I'm sad when I realize there are less raspberries this morning; the season is almost over. I savor the moment even more.
I'm patiently working towards a 100%.