Summers used to be so luxuriously long. June stretched to September, in a progression of weeks that passed like years, full of water and sand and lemonade, mixing and mellowing in the runoff from the sprinkler.
Today, summers seem over even before they begin. “Real” jobs slowly encroach and then overtake the sunburned ones I used to hold. Even while I try to grasp the days as they pass, life, in the form of weddings and money and obligations, is ushering me out of the season.
And I’m still trying to recapture the summers I know I’m growing out of. I’m craving just a few more Frisbee games. I’m not ready for my dog sitting and garden watering jobs to end. I want a few more long, sunburned bike rides. I don’t want my raw knees to scab over and heal.
I come from a family of preservers. We can our peaches and freeze garden-fresh tomato sauce and dry our summer peppers to warm the winter.
But I want to preserve more. I want to bottle the smell of blistering hot peach cobbler. I want to record the sound of the ice cream maker grinding away on the porch. I wish I could remember what it felt like, falling in love for the first time. I want to keep feeling it.
I think that is beyond me. I can draw, and photograph, and write every little thing down. But that is a shallow imitation. It’s not real. The real thing is gone, evaporated like summer rain on hot asphalt.
I miss it, but I am so very glad that it came, beautiful and quick as a July thunderstorm. I danced in it, caught it on my tongue and savored it.
Maybe that is the only way. The best way, after all.