Tired of the air conditioning and needing fresh air, I recently opened one of my kitchen windows. Hearing them, I sighed. The sweetness of the familiar summer sound mingled with the bitterness of what that sound meant. The trees thick with the cicadas’ song reminded me that the long-lit warm days of summer are coming to an end.
Within days, it started. The back-to-school clothes commercials, store shelves lined with new backpacks and one supermarket stocked with a small, albeit significant shelf of Halloween candies.
I am geographically located in an area where each season announces itself—loudly. I love each one, but I most appreciate summer for it is the time when relief from the cold, dark days of winter is generously given with warm, balmy ones. A time when the hours stretch out with the sun’s long light. The rules relax and everyone slips into a comfortable placed filled with sweet tea, tanned skin, and flip-flops.
Most importantly, summer means vacation when the route to escape the typical complications of life is easily taken on a stroll beside the ocean or a paddle across a mountain lake.
This all changes, of course, when you have young children. Then vacation becomes more of an effort to maintain one’s sanity under the guise of fun as each day starts with military-like precision planning to adhere to a timetable that includes everyone’s nap, eating and bathroom schedule. It also takes skilled maneuvering to weave through crowds and across hot sand while keeping the children in tact and pacified while lugging beach toys, sunscreen and water.
As parents, summer’s long easy days of our past are often replaced by hot, hurried ones rushing to soccer camps, day trips to museums and swim lessons. All usually ending in someone crying, another one refusing to move an inch and everyone feeling road weary and exhausted. I remember, though, summers when I traveled the world meeting fascinating people without every leaving my backyard.
As a child, my summer days were spent reading while lying sun-soaked beside the pool. One in particular remains fondly in my memory. It was the year that my best friend spent the summer in Venezuela. Unlike her, I didn’t explore jungles and meet exotic people, but I did spend time in a creepy hotel, rumbled with some outsiders, and fell in love several times thanks to Stephen King, SE Hinton, and Danielle Steele. I spent every day reading for hours then jumping into the cool water of the pool only to be soon pulled back to my lounge chair to once again travel to a world far from mine.
I have since seen the emerald green of Ireland and the crystal blue water of the Mediterranean. And, of course, nothing can really rival smelling the smells, tasting the tastes, and feeling the air. But when you aren’t able to travel or vacation or when the sun has set on the last day of summer, it’s good to remember and to teach our little ones that it only takes a good book and a good imagination to travel the world.
So when you hear the bittersweet song of the cicadas, remember that with a good book you can have summer even in the middle of winter.