Summer in the Slow Lane

If I had to rank them, then I would have to say that summer is my favorite season. I suspect that is true of many, many people and the reason goes back to our childhoods. Summer, when you were waiting for it, seemed never to come. School just dragged on and on and you began to wonder if you would ever be liberated from the classroom, the textbooks, the homework…

Then, when summer finally did arrive, it seemed to last forever. Time slowed down and the sun stayed up for hours and hours so you could stay outside and play far beyond the normal dinner hour. When you finally did fall into bed you were exhausted. But then up early to do it all over again the next day.

And, perhaps because there seemed to be such an abundance of time (or an absence of time, which might be the same thing) you would spend hours and hours doing what seemed like … nothing.

I remember leaving the house during the summer and going out in to what we called “the woods,” and just wandering or playing some sort of made up game with my friends and, then, sitting under a tree with a book and reading.

Imagine. So much time that you could spend it that way. Turning the pages and maybe even falling asleep over them, the way Alice did before she tumbled down the rabbit hole. And that, perhaps, is my most enduring memory of those endless summer days—sitting under a tree and reading a book, unaware and unconcerned about that persistent scold … time.

Well, that was then. And today, I wonder just what has happened to summer. It is still my favorite time of year, like I said, but that summer of reading books under a tree exists only in my memory. Summer, these days, is about being busy. Somewhere along the way, the lazy days of summer became the hectic days, and nights, of summer. The weather is so fine that we try to cram everything in. The garden has its demands. And it is just too nice not to get out on the golf course. And, of course, all sorts of people are here for the summer and wouldn’t it be nice to have them over for dinner. And then there is the full calendar of events. Exhibits. Performances. Concerts. And, somewhere, in there you have to make time for your real life.

Everything changes when you grow up. We all know that. Not that we have a choice. But I do wonder if there might not be a way to capture some of that old feeling of summer. Some of what you see when kids are out in the meadow or the back yard, just playing. I see that when my daughter brings her girls over for the afternoon.

I haven’t seen them sitting under a tree and reading. Not yet, anyway. But this summer, I intend to set the example and do it, myself. Take a book (no Kindles for this kind of reading) and a glass of lemonade down into the tree line behind the house, sit under a big oak I have in mind and just read until I fall asleep—fall, like Alice, right out of time.

Now, for your own reading pleasure, try this spectacular summer issue. You can even take it outside, sit under a tree, open the pages and enjoy. And we won’t be insulted if you fall asleep. One story that will keep you awake is about trail running. We also take a new deeper look at the food scene around these parts, in particular, summer berries. And check out our new section on the Arts Scene. There’s lots to do here in your busy summer.