Monday, August 22, 2011

SUNLIGHT IN A JAR – Capturing the Sensations of Summer

Summer in these northern climes is a short-lived feast of colors and sounds, smells and feelings. No sooner than we start getting used to all these sensations—and the abundance of daylight to enjoy them—we're seeing reminders that it isn't going to last. The alarming whine of cicadas, sneezes from ragweed pollen, a breath or two of dryer air; nights dropping below 60, and darkness by eight.

Every year at this time, a sense of melancholy starts seeping in through those little cracks in my summer reverie. This is when I realize that within two months the leaves will be falling; within three, snow could fly, extinguishing the last flickers of color from the landscape.

...come January, I'll be able to take those memories off the shelf and enjoy a taste, a sweet distillation of this glorious season's bounty.

Every year I tell myself I'll remember all the little sensations of summer so that, sometime in the dead of winter, I'll be able to relive them—at least in my mind.

Trouble is, summer's bliss is awfully perishable. In fact, the very reason for much of its magic is its spontaneity and impermanence. So by January, little remains, and I'm left scrounging for scraps.

But this year will be different. This year I'm doing some canning. That way, come January, I'll be able to reach in, take those memories off the shelf and enjoy a taste, a sweet distillation of this glorious season's bounty—just enough to get my spirits through until the banquet is spread afresh in May.

Here's what I'm putting up in my mental Mason jars:
  • the shady spaces trees create
  • the luscious brew of nitrogen, oxygen, moisture, and scent that is summer air
  • water that's not hard
  • the laughter that wafts in from a night baseball game two blocks away 
  • fungus
  • the sweet smell of just-mown grass
  • dappled sunlight
  • the solid green archway fallen trees and grape vine have built over my walking path
  • the way my skin feels, exposed to non-air-conditioned air
  • two hours of daylight to play after supper
  • air and sound pouring into the house through open windows
  • the warm, nutty smell of sun tanned skin
  • lavish color
  • the primeval smell and feel of rich, moist soil
  • the pulsing sizzle of an August meadow
  • the way a thunderstorm unites and humbles people
  • that sour smell of hot pavement just after the rain starts
  • the way an ice-cold Coke goes down when you're really, really thirsty
  • the curious "ps-s-seew!, ps-s-seew! of twilight nighthawks
  • the uncontained music of an outdoor concert
  • the way trees stand out, like black lace, against golden twilight sky
  • hearing night sounds as I fall asleep
  • the throb of crickets chirping in unison
  • the one lonely little frog in our stormwater pond
  • the special wild place I can, most days, call my own
  • walking hand-in-hand without gloves
  • babbling brooks
  • the way my arms and shoulders get their second wind after hours of paddling my canoe
  • a million critters to watch—each with its own desperate drama of survival
  • the way road construction delays make you dig deep for serenity
  • growing things
  • cooling off naturally—with sweat and breeze
  • fresh corn on the cob and home-grown tomatoes
  • the way the tree leaves show their light, silvery sides on a 100-degree day
  • planing my hand in the rushing air out the car window
What impressions have you harvested for canning this summer?


Grace said...

Hi, I just discovered your blog. I love the idea of finding wonder in our world (I suppose the mission of my blog is similiar!).

At this time of year we have an abundance of dragonflies at the pond. It is one of my favorite parts of summer--to stand there and watch and have them dart all around me.

I plan to carry summer with me through the winter not only with memories, but I hope to draw up some extensive garden plans. We shall see if that actually happens.

Jeffrey Willius said...

Hi Grace -- I'm so glad you found your way to OMW! Welcome!
I share your fascination w/dragonflies. Since I learned they eat mosquitoes, I not only appreciate their incredible beauty, but the fact that they're helping me!
Your thought of planning your garden sounds like a great way to help you get through a long winter -- go for it!
I'd love to have you sign up as a follower and/or share OMW with your kindred-spirit friends. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Hi Jeff! I love reading your blog. We are looking forward to you and Sally returning to Zihua. Please let us know when you'll be in town.

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