Where I live, summers are not measured by the calendar so much as by holidays. Summer begins with Memorial Day and ends with Labor Day. The mid-point is marked by the Fourth of July. The calendar does not agree of course. Summer, according to “calendarians” (is that a word?) begins on or about June 21 and ends on September 22 or 23rd (depending on the year). But, no matter how you measure summer, it’s the shortest season of the year; although if you count days, it’s about the same length as all the other seasons. Still it seems shorter. And, that’s all that matters, I guess.
Scientifically speaking, the day that summer begins is called the summer solstice. That’s when the sun shines directly over the Tropic of Cancer and marks the time when summer’s direct sunlight reaches its northernmost point. I do realize that those of you who live in the southern hemisphere are experiencing the winter solstice at this time. Lots of pagans used to go wild then, so I hope all of you down south behave yourself.
Summer is a time when the days are long, the nights balmy, the breezes warm, and time passes most quickly. It’s a fact. I don’t care what calendarians say; what watches say; or what is logical. Time passes most swiftly when summer is here. The older you get the faster times flies anyway and summer just exacerbates that.
Einstein’s theory of relativity gives us a deep understanding of space and time. But, it explains a lot more than just black holes, time warps, worm holes, and the relationship of energy and matter. It explains that the passage of time is relative to how old you are and how you perceive it. Einstein once explained his theory of relativity to grade-school students this way: An hour spent on a park bench sitting with a pretty girl seems like a minute. A minute with your hand on a hot stove seems like an hour. Time is relative to how you perceive it, and it can be devastatingly relative if you don’t perceive it until it is too late. The closer you get to running out of time, the faster time seems to pass. Time cannot be replaced with more time. When the hourglass runs out, there’s no more time left.
In the summer, when soft, scattered, morning mists softly envelope the silvery-green meadows and the early morning sun rises through the thin veil of clouds to greet the dawn; I feel the sad and forlorn ghosts of summers past. Ethereal and ephemeral as they are, I feel them walking beside me. Faintly visible images, like watermarks, difficult to discern, yet as real as the ground upon which I walk, appear and disappear in my mind. I try hard to capture and savor them but I cannot fully enjoy them or truly experience the sadness within them, for they are fleeting – just evanescent misty morsels of one person’s past. My past. And, trying to recapture moments from the past is like trying to capture the wind in a bottle. Just when you think you’ve captured it, you realize it is gone. As if you never really had it to begin with.
Summer: The season in which time passes more swiftly than in any other season. The days, long and bright, begin to become shorter and shorter and the slippery slope downward to the cold, dark, dim days of winter begins – and we barely take notice of it until that first blast of winter’s cold slaps us unkindly in the face. By then it is too late. Winter has arrived and summer is long gone and time moves forward, relentlessly taking with it.
Summer is the time when most of us get caught up in lots of activities and added to the day-to-day “things” we all have to do, we seldom have to for reflection. There are too many things to do, not enough time to do them; but ironically the long hours of daylight in summer fool us into believing that we have a lot of time to get things done. Before you know it, though, the bright summer-green of trees, begin to look lonesome, worn and dull. The bright green leaves turn dull before our eyes yet few notice it Too busy. The balmy nights begin to have a slight hint of chilliness about them. The morning dew grows heavier and more noticeable, the sun goes down sooner and greets the dawn later, and we’re too caught up in “summer” to notice that time is passing us swiftly by and autumn is just a breath of frost away.
As I walked this morning, I watched the veil of mist vanish into the day, exposing a bright, summer morning sun burning in the clear, sapphire-blue sky. It is summer and time is passing too swiftly. I think about my youth and the “springtime” of my life. It seems, looking back, it was a long stretch from kindergarten to college. Spring seems to have lasted a very long time. Then came the summer of my life, and it seems like it lasted only a day or two and autumn was upon me. I wonder whatever happened to summer? It does me no good to wonder. The summer of my life is gone. It came and went and it seems I must have barely taken notice of it. I was too “wrapped up” in things that seemed important at the time. I wonder what they were? Again, I realize, too late, that I can never go back there again. The summer of my life is gone forever – to wherever summers of people’s lives go when they are gone.
This summer season, I am certain, will be more fleeting than any before it. Each day I promise myself that I will take more time to enjoy each day; take time to enjoy the sunshine; the eerie but beautiful morning mists; the soft, warm, gentle breezes, the balmy summer nights; and the shimmering summery night sky – when the moon, painted by a Devine hand, hangs so beautifully yet tenuously among the stars, clouds and comets. I wonder if I’m the only one who notices it? Surely not. But many times, I have not noticed it or many other things that have come and gone in my life. Now when I try to remember all I see are faint watermarks; wispy, mist-veiled thoughts of past experiences and days and seasons that have come and gone. Will I really take the time to enjoy this summer this year? I promise myself I will. But, will I keep that promise or will I allow less important things to get in the way? John Lennon said that “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. I promise myself that this summer I will not be too busy making other plans to enjoy summer. I promise myself, but keeping that promise is another thing.
This summer, I will listen for the sound of soft gossamer wings that gently carry the fragile lessons and memories of summers past upon them. I will listen hard. Many summers in the past, I never heard them at all. I’m sure they were there, off in the distance, but I never had time to listen for them. Sadly, it has taken me all these years to come to the realization that I have broken too many promises to myself and others. I was always too busy to appreciate moments that I should have appreciated as they happened They are now gone. These summery things are flying out there on pale gossamer wings – just vague shadows in the memories of the past. I will try to hear them this summer. I will listen hard. I promise.
I think the time has come that I start keeping my promises. It is about time I learn from the many mistakes I’ve made in the past. It is about time.