Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Summer Begins and Starts to End

I sat out on the deck last night looking at the stars and rubbing my arms because the breeze was just a wee bit chilly. That seemed a little strange since earlier in the day, the hot, muggy air clung to my skin and made me feel like I was trying to breathe underwater.

When I was young, summer vacation always seemed to be hot, humid, and long. We lived in the country in the middle of nowhere. Playing outside meant dealing with the full blast of heat and sun. Even swimming in tepid lake water only provided temporary relief. It didn’t take long to be just as hot or hotter. There was no place to cool off except beneath a shade tree. During the hot summer months, I read a lot of books and spent most of my time trying to stay cool. I’d sit in front of the box fan, dressed in tank tops and shorts, reading a book.

Nighttime didn’t always bring relief. Windows were left open and a fan would blow the cooler night air in, or on some nights, it might be reversed to blow hot air out.

Yes, summer in Missouri can be a scorcher, if you’re not loitering under the air conditioner. Of course, that’s the very reason that outside can seem unbearable. It’s hard to acclimate to a twenty degree change in temperature by simply stepping over the doorsill.

I find myself chilly inside and uncomfortably warm outside. A few times, I’ve been caught off guard when I step outside wearing sweatpants and a flannel shirt.

The thing I thought about when I was looking at the stars last night is that now summer doesn’t seem to be nearly as long as I remember it from my youth. If I want to go somewhere, I walk out of my frigid house, jump in an air-conditioned car, drive to an air-conditioned store. In other words, I can pretty much avoid the heat. Not only that, but as I get older it seems that time goes by much faster. June was here and gone before I had time to turn the pages in all my calendars at home. It just zipped past.

With June being my birthday month, it kind of seems like maybe life is flashing before my eyes at times. It doesn’t help that two wonderful men I had the pleasure of knowing passed away during the final days of June. One was struck down by the cruelest of diseases—Alzheimer’s. I had been in contact with family members as they went through the day-to-day stresses, quandaries, and grief that watching a loved one fade away brings with it. Now their grief takes a new direction as they learn to live without him.

While I was still adjusting to his death, I learned of author Jory Sherman’s death. I knew Jory was not doing well and that he made the decision to go home “to die.” He wanted to spend his final days in the place he loved.

Jory was an inspiration to me when I first started writing. He critiqued my work, and I subscribed to his “story of the month.”

As soon as I learned of his death, I pulled out the Sadness of Autumn, Tales of the Ozark Hills. I knew that in Jory’s lyrical words, I would find some words of wisdom and comfort. It only took about two minutes before I came upon a passage in “Summerend” a story Jory wrote about his father’s death. Jory Sherman wrote: “There was the voice of him in the stark yellow wind that blew in my face and took my voice out of my dry throat. There was the gentle hand of him in fallow earth where he would have kneaded the soil and its seeds to a fine and green growing. There was his spirit scattered all over acres of sky and his heart moving the blood through my own and my children’s and their children’s lives. It is a sad thing when the summer begins to end.”

It seems to me that summer starts to end almost before it begins.

copyright © July 2014 by L.S. Fisher
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