As I sit in my "writing room" tonight, I hear the distant echo of fireworks, early Independence Day celebrations from a neighboring community. I love fireworks - the surprising explosions of color that fill the night sky, the anticipatory thunder announcing their appearance. In my mind's eye I see marvelous eruptions of color - reds, greens, purples, blues- in spectacular and surprising patterns, emerging like kaleidoscopes in front of my eyes. I'm still easing into this summer routine, these days that suddenly have so many more hours than I've been used to, hours when the sun keeps shining long after I expect it to have sunken to sleep in its bed on the western horizon. All this extra time reminds me of these fireworks that I love so much - hours that explode in front of me like brilliant gifts, evoking ooohs and aahs from the depths of my spirit. What should I do with this unexpected gift of time~should I write? play the piano? walk the dogs? ride my bike? read? weed my flower beds? call a friend?
"I'm restless," I said to my husband, "yet I don't feel like doing anything."
"Then don't," he replied, an easy answer from someone who never seems disturbed by that persistent itching of obligation and imagination, the combination of which drives me to incessant and often unnecessary activity.
So I took to my chair and sat, listening to children playing merrily in a yard whose location I couldn't quite identify, but reveling in their summer joy wherever it might be. Slouched in my plastic Adirondack chair, my feet propped on a square table, I sipped cold white wine and turned my face toward the blood red sun, still fixed proudly in the evening sky.
We have just passed the summer solstice, (from the Latin sol for sun and sistere for standing still) the time when the earth "stands still" in a moment that has come to mark the separation of seasons. Time seems to stand still for me in during the summer, unmarked by the many obligations that fill my fall-winter-spring days. During those seasons, I feel myself on a perpetual merry-go-round of frenetic activity, and life becomes a whirling dervish that makes me dizzy and seasick. When I turn my calendar to June, it's as if I've jumped off the ride and landed smack on my knees in the sand. Suddenly, the world stops spinning at its mad and hectic pace, and I sit for a while, dazed and confused, trying to get my bearings in this new and quieter place.
I have made no plans for this summer, no lists of things to do, no resolutions about what I hope to accomplish in this all too brief respite from the hustle -bustle of life during the academic year. My only plan is to focus on the solstice - on standing still and experiencing the marvelous and unexpected explosions of color, the fireworks of summer.