Memory

The summer air is tangible, thick,  heavy on my skin. Humidity hangs visibly in the hazy air.

The wind is blowing; it never stops blowing here. There is a restlessness in this place–a constant motion and sound cutting through the trees, bowing the prairie grass gently from side to side.

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Everything seems bigger than me–the grass to my waist, the scruffy trees I climb barefoot and brown, the sky stretching out in ocean spans above the endless rolling farmland. I disappear into the cornfield, feeling smaller still with prickly stalks over my head pressing in around me.

I find a dusty bare spot in the field–a circle of dirt where the tractor turned and no seed was planted. I can smell the corn, sweet and tangy. Everything smells green here–did you know green is a smell? I can remember it–the green–the smell of green grass, green crops, green trees. Everything was green and brown and blue— the sky, the dirt, the oceans of prairie grass swaying in that humid Midwest wind.

My bare feet are brown and dusty, callused as leather and as good on gravel as any pair of shoes. You don’t need shoes here–you can climb the trees better without them–toes moving confidently against scratchy bark and branch.

I was a tomboy then. A little bit wild. Scrappy. A girl… not a wife, not a mother. A wildflower and a dreamer making plans to leave and go somewhere bigger. I did not know then how hard it might be to find a place bigger than a Midwest summer–bigger than that sky or those swaying fields of crop.

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I left. I married. I became a mother. I saw the worlds I dreamt of under apple trees and night sky.

It’s good. I’m happy. I’m proud.

But I’d give almost anything for one more day under the Missouri sun–barefoot, brown, laying in a cornfield watching the clouds roll by. I’d lay there til the stars came out. I’d watch the fireflies dance in diamond bands across the still-hot night air. I’d listen to the peepers and crickets sing their song in chorus with that ever-moving breeze. I’d hold on to the smell of green–breathing a little deeper and tucking away that Midwest magic in the pockets of my heart and soul. I’d whisper to my tomboy heart, “You’ll need these someday so hold on.”

Talk About the Weather

I open the front door at 6:30 AM and already it’s hot outside. I tiptoe barefoot across the front porch down into our dusty, brown yard; grass crunches under my feet. This is strange for New England where all summer we’re accustomed to the reprieve of cool mornings and evenings.

I try to avoid talk about the weather; it seems cliché and so remarkably dull to say in winter, “it’s so cold!”—as if we’re astonished that it could be cold in winter. Or in the summer, “it’s soooo hot!” when obviously, of course, it’s supposed to be hot in the summer.

But THE WEATHER is a difficult topic to avoid when the heat or cold wrap around our temperamental bodies in waves of humidity or shocking gusts of artic air. We humans can’t help ourselves, we must talk about it, must say something against this demigod—THE WEATHER.

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I sit outside in the sweltering heat. My lawn chair is positioned carefully in the shade and I do a dance with the sun getting up and pulling my chair back little by little as the sun advances and eats up my shadowy reprieve. I’m trying to remember that I love summer, that summer is ever so brief, that all winter long I stand dutifully at the windows willing winter to die and go away so that summer might come. I’m not going to complain, I say, because I like summer.

But it’s hot, it’s sticky, and unless I’m sitting on the front porch in a lawn chair like a hillbilly, it’s too hot to be outside. My son, barefoot and shirtless, brown as a chestnut, is unmoved by the weather. He would spend every moment outside if his mother would stop complaining about the heat from her hillbilly perch. He fills buckets with water and gathers rocks; he reminds me of a busy little squirrel prepping for winter. He wants me to come play with him, “No”, I say between sips of iced coffee. “Bring mommy the ball.” “Bring mommy the truck.” “Mommy is melting; go away”, I say.

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Let me tell you what this post is supposed to be about: It’s supposed to be about living happily in our present circumstances and not wishing life away for the next best thing—in this case, fall and apple cider. But I’m afraid I may not make it to the moral of the story this time; it’s hot outside and ain’t nobody got time for that.

Summer Baby

 

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“To love another person is to see the face of God.” -Victor Hugo

My boys. My world.

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I don’t want to let go of summer. Nature is working against me though and already fall is willfully inching in around us. It’s a perfectly crisp 70 degrees out right now and I’m sitting here sipping my first pumpkin latte of the season. The Pats are playing tonight and there is very little that makes me as happy as the beginning of football season. Today when I went walking around the block, I noticed the first leaves beginning to change and glide to the ground. Normally I’m excited about all these fallish things—it’s my favorite time of year and I’m usually ready by now for riding boots and cider donuts.

But not this year. This year I want to hold on forever to the green, sunshiny season when my baby was born and I was reborn as a mother. Already six weeks have passed since he came into our lives and I’m afraid he’ll be all grown up by the time the last leaves fly and this summer—this most transformational of summers—will be done, gone, and forgotten in a blink.

So I’m holding on. Holding on to my summer baby and the sunshiny season when he was born.

This week I started taking him for walks around the block in his stroller. I’ve mostly been holed up in the house since he was born because it still feels like a bit of an ordeal trying to leave the house with a newborn. But you can only stay inside drinking espresso and watching Netflix for so long before you start to go a little cray cray. So we walk and explore and breathe in all that wonderful fresh air…and we don’t go crazy…it’s a win win.

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We stop all along the way and snap pictures of whatever pretty summer things we can find.

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Wild flowers

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And herbs going to seed

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And colorful bushes and leaves

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It rained last night and today the air was filled with the fresh, clean smell of wet pine needles. Big billowy whipped cream clouds went floating along and the sky was that perfect cobalt blue that follows after the rain. These are the days I want to remember. These summer days when my baby is tiny and happiest curled up tight in my arms. These days when I’m a brand new mommy and me and this baby are seeing the world together for the first time—he truly has never seen it before and I somehow see it all so differently now that he’s here.

These are the days, the perfect summer days that I want to remember forever.

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 A fresh little bud in my garden, With petals close folded from view,

Brightly nods me a cheery “Good morning” Through the drops of a fresh bath of dew.

I must patiently wait its unfolding, Tho’ I long its full beauty to see;

Leave soft breeze and warm, tender sunshine To perform the sweet office for me.

I may shield my fair baby blossom; With trellis its weakness uphold;

With nourishment wisely sustain it, And cherish its pure heart of gold.

Then in good time, which is God’s time, Developed by sunshine and shower,

Some morning I’ll find in the garden Where my bud was, a beautiful flower.

–The poem, Mother’s Garden  

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So Long Summer

You won’t believe it but summer is almost over. I tried pretending for a while that it wasn’t true but I’m afraid it’s so.

The other day I pulled a lawn chair outside under my favorite tree and let the warm summer air dance through my hair.

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I looked up at the canopy of leaves overhead and noticed how very freckled and tired they have become after months under the summer sun.

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I told them not to worry, I’m pretty freckled too from my own time in the sun. Then I saw all the leaves on the ground and realized that a few of them have given up entirely.

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And I thought about being sad but then I remembered that it’s okay—no really it is—because fall is lovely too. And those leaves know the best is yet to come. Soon they’ll all be robed in gold and orange and red and a fantastic show it will be.

As a peace-offering for the end of the season, football will start and we can all feel better about that. There will be pumpkin lattes for everyone and the apples at the orchards will be ready to pick and bring home for lots of yummy, spicy apple things like pie, and bread, and my favorite—apple fritters like my mom used to make.

So don’t you dare be sad—fall will be lovely too :]