August 8, 2010

August already?

Summer is supposed to be lazy, right? But mine has been more of the "hang on by the seat of your pants" variety. There's been so much to do--and all of it good. Within the scurrying around doing this and that, I hold in my heart the memory of...

Being a little girl, in the summer... spreading out a blanket under a tree and carting all of my Barbie dolls and their various accessories outside. Spending hours just playing and being, in the yard under that tree with my dashhound, Joey. My grandmother made cinnamon rolls, my mother made apple pie. Andy Griffith was on TV then and I had three pet turtles...

When I was 17, just, my parents let me go to West Virginia to partake in a two-week watercolor workshop. I remember the beauty, the hills, the pleasure of feeling "grown up"... There was no doubt I would pursue art after that...

And then, in college, taking a break and with a blanket heading to the wooded hill behind Taylor Hall (at Kent State). Four years earlier National Guard had marched up it with firearms, but for me it was a place of rest, looking down as it did on the oldest dorm on campus and the School of Fine Arts. I remember being 19 and rolling down that hill, laughing, and trying to figure out love.

A few years later, I worked all summer long at a store selling paintable figurines. I drove home through awful Akron traffic. One time a dryer fell right off a truck in front of me on the freeway! What I remember about that summer is the heat heat heat...and scrounging up $17 to buy a box fan and then sitting in front of it with a book, thankful.

And then, with my own children, sitting under a big banyon tree on the grounds of the Ringling Mansion in Sarasota, FL. Taking a picnic lunch there, gazing out at the Intracoastal Waterway, listening to seagulls...

As my sons grew, we'd spend mornings at a pool, or head to the beach as the sun began to wane. I remember all the sounds of being by the water and their young-boy voices. My youngest drawing cars in the sand with a stick. My eldest wearing a white bathing cap to protect his ears, his body so skinny and white, slathered as it was with suntan lotion. He was more at peace near the water than anywhere else.

And then, still more, the summer my sons finished high school. And letting go of my youngest one as he left home and moved from Ohio to CT. The summer memory I have then is of an old Saab and a young man heading away from me down the street.... I felt then, and still feel now, that life should have offered a ceremony to mark the occassion. Something both somber and joyful, heavy with grief and celebration.

And then, it was the end of summer and my eldest and my sister and I were in NYC on 9/11/01. Only sleep, a summertime's morning slumber, kept us from hurring off to the WTC to see the Statue of Liberty from the observation deck. That was the summer of emotion, so much that I could only grab a blanket and return to that mental place under a childhood tree and regain my equilibrium.

And then, some more summers and I was getting married! The church was hot, the nervousness was palpable, but the joy was great. It had taken me awhile, but I'd learned a few things about love since rolling down the hill at Kent State.

And then, BASEBALL! As my son, Jesse, and my husband, Mark, taught me the game up in the stands at the Phillies' ball park. I learned how much fun sports can be. Especially when a day outside was followed by a wonderful meal with family in one of Philadelphia's great restaurants.

[Photo: Bryce and my mother, hiking in Athens, June 2010.]
And also, it was in the summer that we found our new home, here in Athens. How wonderful these trees, this hill, this home this place called "ours."

I no longer sit on the ground on a blanket...I bought a park bench and it sits under the trees. I have a French easel, a Kindle, a garden, a pitcher of lemonade, and an epipen. The trees provide shade, the birds provide music, my husband is nearby, my children a phone call away.

Even in the busiest of schedules, life beckons to us to enjoy summer....

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