Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Summer Game


I am not a huge fan of summer. Heat + humidity = one worn-out, spaced-out, dragged-out Debra.

But I do love My Summer Morning Game, otherwise known as Beat The Heat (Before it Beats You).

Here's how I play (I would say 'here are the rules,' but rules are like legalism and that would spoil it).

I awaken between five and five-thirty, often because Lennon and McCartney The Cats jump upon the bed to hint it's time for breakfast. So I arise and walk around our house opening wide all the windows for cool air, brush my teeth and check my email, then feed the cats and give Lennon his shot and make some coffee. Then I carry the coffee (real somedays, pretend on others) upstairs to my turquoise-like-a-day-at-the-beach Dream Room for some quiet time, which lately, means watching Leave It To Beaver on dvd in bed (I'll have all afternoon to read books and think deep thoughts so those can wait).

Then my yard calls from below, so I get dressed and brush my hair, slip on my gardening shoes then bring up a glass of birdseed from the basement, which I take outside to the awaiting sparrows and cardinals. Nearly always our nights here cool way down so my gratitude is great. (If nights in Richmond remain hot, please don't tell me. I prefer blissful ignorance.) Then I water the backyard the old-fashioned way--with a plastic yellow bucket. Stuff just grows better for me that way, rather than using a hose, and besides, it accomplishes a sort of work-out for my arms.

I may clip the fast-growing bushes and trees back there or yank up weeds or pick strawberries and place them in my purple plastic plant pot, and then I move out to the front yard and do similar things until the sun gets to a certain spot where it stares at me, as though concentrating on making me hot. Then it's back inside where I toast Ezekiel bread with cherry jam and microwave some pretend bacon, and I take them and Lennon outside to the front porch where I read and watch the neighbors leave for work.

I come in after sitting awhile on the wicker loveseat and straighten the house and maybe I'll toss in a load of laundry--and if it's eight o'clock--I wake Tom up, make him some oatmeal or eggs (only one yolk) and then often I choose someplace fun to go. Maybe I'll drive down to the river with some coffee in a thermos (or buy some from Burger King on the way) or I'll walk or drive over to the Farmer's Market to buy flowers or I'll go to the supermarket where the parking lot will be cool and the store will be quiet and calm, way too early for marauding, screaming babies. Or I might just choose more time out on the front porch until the sun makes the whole thing glow white.

Those four hours sail by like the boats I see on the river, but I play this summer game of Beat The Heat slowly. If I rushed instead of savored it, the coolest portion of my day would be ruined. Instead, there is a natural pace to summer mornings, one quite close to the pace of the old Captain Kangaroo Show. Do you remember him? I can recall being six and lying in front of the tv with my head propped up with the heels of my hands and watching, especially, the films of countrysides and steam engines puffing white smoke across fields and farmers outside their barns and old men sitting outside of shops on wooden sidewalks and kids licking ice cream cones. Always there was music--a man playing the guitar and singing sometimes happy, lilting tunes, other times, slower sentimental songs, and all the while the simple and best parts of Life played upon the tv screen.

And as a child I appreciated those peaceful trips, especially since my home was more stressful than the nature I'd been given by God. I craved peace, even then, as I do now and these mornings--ones I smile and call Captain Kangaroo Mornings while puttering in my cool and shady backyard-- are about as peaceful as peaceful gets. At least where I live.

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