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Friday, July 3, 2009

A Reason to Celebrate

The sun is shining.

A week ago this morning that strange yellow orb appeared in the sky, but last Friday afternoon, clouds rolled in, it started to pour and it has been, at a minimum, overcast ever since. I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that it rained for at least the six successive days prior. “At least,” because in truth, clouds and rain have pressed down on us for so much of the last month, that I’ve lost count. It’s a sad state of affairs that in today’s post I’m compelled to discuss the weather, but I wouldn’t be a New Englander if I didn’t spend significant portions of my life complaining about it.

In our area, typical conversational topics include winters that are too cold, too snowy, or then again, not snowy enough--the springs we suffer through, soggy and rainy while we pine for sun. Even a long stretch of favorable weather elicits the gripe, “We need rain.” In that vein, I knew what I would get yesterday when I mentioned hopefully to a man in a red slicker power walking the beach parking lot, that it seemed like the sky was brightening. One side of his mouth went up in a grimace as he replied: “If we should live so long.”

We wait with inhaled breath for late spring and early summer when the air rolls in dry and warm before humidity descends and we start muttering that the temperatures are too hot. When we are lucky, another beautiful spell arrives in September when the nights are cool but the skies are blue and the sun still contains some heat. We feel fortunate when that stretch extends into October before the leaves fall, the wind picks up, and we are reduced to enjoying ourselves in front of a roaring fire. I know, I know, I learned this year that if I dress for it, the weather shouldn’t inhibit me, but that’s a concept to which I’m still assimilating.

In truth, I have always been a summer girl—stemming from the fact that I was shy and reserved in school and somehow, during that season at the lake where I was an expert swimmer, confidence, as well as a joyful exuberance coursed through my veins. My birthday occurs in the summer too, and what kid doesn’t celebrate the weeks leading up to that auspicious time? As I grew older though, I realized that most often a hot spell surrounds the day; over my lifetime there have been many sweaty, mid-nineties-approaching-one-hundred-degree celebrations.

In spite of that I still cherish July, but in 1993, my love of summer climbed a pinnacle to rest on the month of August. In that month, a beautiful girl was born to a loving birthmother who chose my husband and me to be her parents. Our daughter’s birthday occurred on a normal and therefore changeable day in New England. At our house, about three miles from the ocean the sun blazed down; my husband and I decided to go for a sail but when we arrived at the dock the harbor was blanketed with fog. We sat on the damp boat at the mooring, staring glumly at each other and then returned home to a blinking message that changed our lives.

I spent the rest of that August, as well as September and October home with our girl, and it was the first time I realized that August gifts us with pure delight. Occasionally, humidity reappears as a hurricane circles down south and the ocean churns and spews a harvest of seaweed. We wait to see if the storm will turn towards us, but it’s been a long time since one has. Mostly, the air dries out, the nights blow fresh; we breathe deep and pull out the blankets as we crack the windows to one inch.

During the day the sun shines hot, but there is an edge--reminders that summer is waning in the early sugar maples that bleed to orange, mornings that dawn brisk and bees that probe insistently as the flowers in the garden wind down. Morning fog drifts above the pond down the street while the colors around us soften to yellow and gold; visiting cousins to the bright teals and roses of June and July--more stunning as a result of their fleeting nature. We hold on tight and bathe in the remaining heat, embracing each moment because of evidence that is clear. Summer is reaching an end.

So though today I’m plenty frustrated that already we’ve missed the longest days of the season while sitting mired in clouds and fog; I’m OK. It’s all about August now; in front of us looms the promise of our eighth month and its blessing of favorable weather; in our mind, nature’s reflection of a birthday celebration that lasts the entire month long.

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