If you asked me to list my favorite season, winter immediately comes to mind. Christmas(my favorite holiday), my wedding anniversary, and my birthday fall in winter. Celebrations I look forward to each and every year. Yes, even my birthday, celebrating each additional year is so much better than the alternative. Further contemplation, however, leads me to summer. Specifically, the lazy days of summer.
I am not a morning person, never have been.
Ironically, swim lessons at age three, summer league at five, and year-round swim at six led three of my four children to year-round swim team. Ultimately year-round swimming leads to early morning practice before kids reach the driving age. So, I happily drove kids to 5am swim practice for years. I loved every minute of it, morning conversations or just watching them sneak fifteen more minutes of sleep en route to the pool.
Yet as soon as I returned home, I stole back into bed for an added hour of sleep because this non-morning person needed the extra hour just to face the day. Alarm clocks set for after 5am remain tolerable, those set for anything before 5am just are not right. Now the remaining swimmer drives himself (when he is home), and I just have one left to drive to and from school.
I still long for the lazy days of summer.
Staying up late and sleeping in. Staying in pjs as long as I choose, I refuse to drive anyone to school in pjs, always worried that I will get pulled over, run out of gas or witness an accident. “No, officer, I do not routinely drive to school in my pajamas.”
I can just see it, the bewildered amusement in the officer’s eyes, me showing up on the news or in the paper.
No homework in summer. Not the “no homework” days of my childhood. My youngest, Matthew, will begrudgingly complete the packet of summer work; however, it does not spill into the evening hours. We choose how much to do on a given day: one hour, four hours, or not at all. “We” read what he chooses to read, not what he must.
No complaining from Matthew about school. No worry about fire drills, tests, or desk work. No counting of sleeps until a holiday. No questions about dismissal time on Friday. We will start a reluctant countdown to the first day of school about halfway through summer. His anxiety resides. He fishes with his older brother, Walker, at the Graffiti Bridge, helps clean up “brown stuff” in the yard, and swims almost every day.
Afternoons by the pool listening to the sounds of the neighborhood.
Birds flitting around the trees. Children shriek with delight as they jump in backyard pools. Matthew singing and splashing in the water, fully decked in his merman fin, swim cap, goggle, and life jacket. He jumps off “the waterfall” he sits at eye level with the water and dumps items in, watching them fall to the bottom and then retrieving them. The tinkling music of the ice cream truck and the excited voices of those running to meet it. Dogs barking at the squirrels on the fence or the cat sneaking across the yard.
Bailey’s Produce and Nursery tops my summer grocery shopping list for fresh summer fruits and vegetables, depending on the season. I grow fresh herbs, tomatoes, and peppers in my backyard, but everything else I find at Bailey’s. Georgia Peaches as soon as they arrive for cobbler and salads. Tomatoes of all varieties. Green ones for fried green tomatoes, large red ones for bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches, and small cherry ones for tomato-cucumber salad. Fresh okra, roasted or fried. Seedless watermelon, chilled and eaten with salt or in a salad with mint and feta.
If my kids or my mom read this, they are laughing. I do not slow down too often, always planning, and sticking to a routine. But we all need a respite from the norm, the schedule. Summer offers all of us that opportunity. The days longer, the sun higher in the sky for a few hours more. It feels like we earn a few hours more to do the things we want to, the things we enjoy. Even those who work all day get an extra hour or two of sunset to find their joy.