My Summer

“So how is your summer going?” my neighbor asked as we sat on my front porch. She’s not a neighbor I visit with often, just about once a month when she comes over as my visiting teacher. It is one of the programs of my church where women of the congregation are assigned to visit each other. It is a good program, helping people make connections and build friendships where they otherwise might not. Like me and this neighbor. We’ve known each other for years, but not had much cause to sit down and just chat. This does leave me with a bit of a dilemma though, because to really clarify how my summer has been would require quite a lot of back story. I could spend hours explaining how our business goes, the various ailments and recoveries of my children, the transitions we have paused for the month of July, and dozens of other things big and small which all contribute to how I feel about my summer on this particular sunny afternoon.

I give all of that a wide miss and simply answer, “Good.” It is truth. Things are good, particularly on that porch with the air warm around me, but the sun veiled by the shade of a tree. I can look across the mowed lawn with it’s clumps of clipped grass that really ought to be raked, but it was so much effort to get my son to mow that I chose not to spend effort arguing about raking as well. There are also weeds aplenty in sight, but I look up instead to the pink blossoms of the mimosa tree. I can smell them as the breeze wafts toward me. Wasps fly languidly in the tall grass and my cat is stretched out on the warm pavement in the shade. On that hot porch I can immerse myself in the feel of a summer afternoon when nothing is particularly pressing. My to do list has been steadily shrinking. This surprises me because for so long things accumulated far faster than I could get them done. Now they are starting to be done.

The coins are shipped. The Body Politic has arrived en-masse. Link’s doctor says he does not need any more follow up appointments. Kiki has been to her orientation meeting. There are still business things to do, but it is a reasonable number, one that allows for me to sit on my front porch and visit with a neighbor. Of course she wants more detail than “Good.” So I try to focus down a little bit more on one small piece of life. Somehow life is easier to share in pieces. Since Kiki is on the porch with us, we end up talking about her orientation and her impending departure for college. It is a comprehensible challenge, easy to define and explain. Much simpler than talking about my writing, or my worries about the coming school year these things are complex and I feel many contradictory things in relation to them. It is nice to focus on an aspect of life rather than trying to hold all of it in my head at once, as I so often do.

Perhaps this is why I feel so calm during summer afternoons when I step outside. In those moments I let myself be fully present in that moment rather than on a computer with half a dozen windows open, trying to remember which thing should come next. I don’t have such a respite in the winter months and I miss it. My neighbor stayed only for a short visit before getting on her bike and pedaling home. I sat for a few minutes after she left, just feeling the fading heat of the day and knowing that this summer is good.