I am not fond of summer.
I love the long evenings and the fireflies, the machinations of clouds as they form elegantly daunting thunderheads, beautiful and threatening at the same time. I love the plethora of growth for the color and the fine dining right out of the garden. I love the pace that seems to turn toward laughter and fun rather than groan and grind. I love the backyard barbecues and the freedom children feel to be their playful selves. Despite my introversion, I love the extroversion of summer.
But I hate the heat. And relentless sun, baking soil and skin without relief.
Heat renders me grouchy, physically swollen, and cowering in the shade–if I must be outdoors at all. As a water person, I can think of no better time than to be IN water. The heat fires up all manner of aches, pains, and sluggishness. My brain slows to a glurp. I sweat without effort. I sleep restlessly even in air conditioning because I can feel the heat and humidity leaking through the walls. Sticky. Icky. I feel deep, physical malaise for three solid months. I count the days to Halloween as a distraction and pray for breezes from Canada, the Extreme North of Canada, God please. How do heavily-furred mammals deal with this stuff?
And then the monarch butterfly, so rare these days, finds the milkweed in my garden, and I know that without summer, small, divine showings such as this would never happen. The birds go wild flopping around in the bird bath without any care about their use of water. The lightning bugs/fireflies punctuate summer evenings to the point of strobing; they must multiply in my tree line because the light show is a popcorn-popping-fest without sound. Only in summer. These sightings and experiences are my relief.
Relief is what we seek when we are in extremis. The natural world keeps me from complaining too brazenly, because the cycles of the seasons, even in places where temperatures don’t change much, offer gifts in each phase. To receive the gifts is to make the suffering less. So I learn that survival is a matter of focus, and thus survival can be pinpointed with moments of light (butterfly finding home), alight (birds bathing boisterously), and delight (popcorn-flashing bug light).
One piece of advice: don’t pick up a cat in summer when one is sweating. Sticky. Icky. I attempt to express my appreciation to them for their contributions toward my summer fur coat, but I never sound genuine. I also never desire to be furry, and I have learned to keep my distance until shedding season passes. But they are determined to share, generous souls that they are. Run. Run away.
For those who are relieved that summer is in full-swing, let it be said that I share (some of) your joy. My relief comes from witnessing the antics of those who love this time. Thank you for the gift in the midst.