A Summer State of Mind

Walking outside is like wading through bath water. It's every bit as hot, and the humidity adds resistance to the air. The heat almost has a smell, or maybe that's just the grass baking in the summer sun. I can hear the locust chorus singing from inside my living room, and no doors or windows are open. Fireflies are blinking their hellos to me as I look through the windows of my french doors into the dusky woods. It's the time of year when heat lightening can be seen almost every evening out here on Lake D'Arbonne, and the gathering clouds bring a welcome drop in temperature and a gentle breeze to kiss perspiring faces.

My refrigerator is overflowing with summer squash, crisp cucumbers, fresh peaches and juicy blackberries. Soon, there will be more watermelon available than I can eat. Oh, how I love watermelon! My grandfather and father-in-law both take an interest in summer crops, so there are more than enough delicious and non glutenous things to eat for at least three months out of the year.

Summer holds more nostalgia for me than any other season. I don't know why that is. I have an asthma attack whenever I'm near a freshly mowed lawn. My blood sugar becomes uncontrollable if I spend too much time out in the swoon inducing heat. I sometimes break out in hives if I eat too much watermelon. So, why do I love it so? I'm not sure, but I think it's because when I was a child, my entire household relaxed out of its school year tension when summer came. My dad was a school teacher, and while he's always liked his job, he's always found it a bit stressful. But each year when the school doors closed, light shone into our home, and the only thing on the agenda was to have as much fun as possible until mid August. And boy, did Dad know how to show us all--Mom included--a good time! We would go out for snow cones and play in the park. He would set up a sprinkler or a slip n slide which would provide hours of cool, wet fun. We went to the zoo, summer art camps, and Vacation Bible School. I loved staying up late watching movies, and waking up late to the comforting smells of coffee and bacon. We always took at least one vacation a year together. For several years in a row, summer wasn't complete until we had gone to a Texas Rangers baseball game, eaten one of the stadium hot dogs and spent the following day at the big waterpark in Arlington, Texas. And don't even get me started on the year we began planning an annual trip to the Florida coast! I became a beach bum for life before I was legal to drive. It's a good thing I married a fellow beach bum because that could have been a deal breaker.

The fact is . . . I love, love, love summer. I love summer so much, in fact, that one of my primary reasons for choosing to get a degree in education is because of summer vacation. It's just lucky happenstance that I like children and that I'm a gifted teacher. Here's the strange thing--I teach private piano and voice lessons, and I'm not taking the summer off. I'm primarily a stay-at-home mother of a toddler, which means seasons aren't as significant as they once were, and I am still caught up in the intoxicating nostalgia of summer. I cannot help myself. The heat is miserable, and my Eustachian tubes won't quit itching (which is super annoying because you can't scratch your Eustachian tubes), and I know I'm gonna have to cut myself off and/or down a couple of Benadryl after a slice or two of watermelon, but I am absolutely, irrevocably in L-O-V-E with summer.

Honey, it's summertime, and the livin' is easy. I have kicked up my heels, let down my hair and let the summer high take me away into the D'Arbonne sunset (which happens to be spectacular, by the way). Inspired by one of my new favorite blogs, I have compiled a summer "to-do" list. Some of these items have been checked off once, but it's summer! I'm not limited to one check!

1. Audition for a show. Check.

I auditioned for Peter Pan at Strauss Theater in Monroe, and was offered the role of Mrs. Darling. It's a perfect role, really. It's different from anything I've done before. It's small, so I don't have to give up my summer late nights with my main man. I get to sing a little and show off my British accent. I couldn't ask for more.

2. Buffalo River canoe trip. Check. I even caught a couple of nice bass.

3. Spend time with seldom seen friends. Check, but more of that to come . . .

4. Finger painting with Micah on a hot afternoon. Check.

5. "Swimming" in the backyard with Micah. Check. (But there's not much actual swimming going on. He won't even sit in the water.)

6. Cook more. Half a check. I can cook more because I'm not teaching evening lessons. I like to cook more now that I'm not teaching evening lessons. Sometimes Micah and I cook together. Sometimes, I cook, and he adds the whine. And sometimes, Brandon watches Micah while I cook, and I get to listen to awesome music on my Ipod Touch as I stir, season and create.

7. Discover great, new music through ITunes. Check! See previous post.

8. Eat more vegetables. Fruit is too easy. Check!

9. Do more yoga. Check!

Now, on to the things left undone . . .

10. A family swim in a real pool.

11. A family vacation to the beach (minus the oil-slick). To make this one happen, it will be in combo with the remainder of number 3.

12. Sing more.

13. Read more non-fiction.

14. Seriously work on the novel.

15. Make at least 3 library story hours with the little guy.

16. Rent a canoe from D'Arbonne State Park, and float around with my boys as the sun sets. Like I said, D'Arbonne sunsets are something to be seen.

17. More bass fishing. Brandon and I leave for Arkansas next weekend to make this one happen!

18. Share a popsicle with a curly red.

19. Read more fiction.

20. Take another trip out to where Grandmommy grew up, where she lived and where she died.

21. Eat figs fresh off the tree at Grandmommy's old place. Watch Micah's face as he tries one.

22. Figure out the proper amount of bug spray required to keep the horsefly hordes from attacking me so that I can play outside with my child in peace.

23. Share all of my favorite summer foods with Micah.

24. Drink a homemade cinnamon dulce daily.

25. Lay out in the sun as often as I can for as long as I can stand it or until I smell like man.

26. Watch several summer storms.

27. Take afternoon naps.

28. Finish sewing our curtains.

29. Go on a movie date with Brandon at least twice a month.

30. Go on an unplanned adventure.

31. And as I do all of these things, taking as much pleasure in life as is humanly possible, I will remember from whom all blessings flow. I will revel in His many gifts with joy and gratitude. He was the one who was clever enough to imagine and create summer, after all.

So raise your paper cup of Country Time lemonade purchased from your neighbor's five year old daughter. To summer!