I don’t remember summer ever being this long, even when I was a kid. Summers in Australia are long but we only ever had a month or so off from school over the Christmas holidays, so ‘summer’ really only lasted six weeks. Here, in the U.S., ‘summer’ as defined by the school break is usually around two and a half months long.
This year we’ve been doing summer since late March, and for the past two weeks, I’ve been craving the crisp air of autumn, the scent of falling leaves and woodsmoke, hoodies, and all things pumpkin. But August still has a week to go—and it’s nearly 90 out there today. I’m wearing shorts and flipflops.
To be fair, I was probably wearing shorts and flipflops on August 24th last year. I do seem to remember complaining about leaves already turning yellow, though. Saying something like, “I’m not ready.”
Winters in Northeast Pennsylvania aren’t particularly harsh. Not by North Dakota standards. They probably already have snow. (Do they even get to wear flipflops? Outside?) But the past handful of winters have been dreadful. Blizzards have knocked our power out for days at a time and we had snow so deep we had to plow twice—once in the middle of the storm and again after it was done.
(I can hear the North Dakota folks laughing.)
Then there were the days when it was too cold to walk, even dressed in layers with a scarf wrapped around my face.
I’ve never been a fan of the cold. I don’t like snow. But I accept winter as the counterpart to summer. I know enduring it will allow me to appreciate what comes next.
Today, while sorting my socks, I came across the pair I use for winter hiking and got all nostalgic. For a pair of socks—and slogging through ankle-deep snow. I’m obviously not well. The thing is, this summer has been ENDLESS. We generally get a lot of rain up here in the Poconos, and I’m pretty sure it rained on me every day in March through the end of May. Then the rain stopped, the sun came out and it’s still out. Every day. Shining from gloriously blue skies sometimes decorated with fluffy white clouds.
Day after day after day.
Has this summer really been longer, though? Or has the weather colluded with other factors to make it seem as if I’m stuck in a time-loop?
- My daughter came home from college in the middle of March—a week before Spring Break. We expected her to go back to school at the end of the month. She did not. Although she completed the semester online, she had a lot more free time than during a typical school year, meaning she wanted to hang out. So… we hung out.
- We closed our small business (food service) for four weeks beginning in April and then sold the same business at the end of May. All of a sudden, my husband and I had a lot more free time too. Because we’d been neglecting the garden for a couple of years—beyond basic weeding and mowing—we tumbled outside and started doing ALL THE THINGS. We ordered mulch and river rocks and dirt and sand. We weeded, mulched, reshaped beds, and built a new pathway. Leveled some ground. Ordered gravel. Painted things, planted things, weeded again. Laid out new beds and planned two new gardens.
- The sun continued to shine, meaning I needed to be outside. I can’t stand to sit inside when it’s sunny outside.
- We’ve walked the neighborhood every day. We now go at eight in the morning, and it’s already too hot. I’ve usually written for two hours by then, meaning my workday is, ah, done. The important part. The writing part. The rest of my day can be divided between the business side of being a writer and tending my ever-expanding garden.
- In the sunshine.
- We haven’t visited friends, and aside from a weekend hiking trip to a B&B up near the Finger Lakes, we haven’t been on vacation. We don’t go to the movies anymore. Or out to dinner. We didn’t make our nearly annual trip down to D.C. Or our other annual trip to Hershey Park. No week at the shore. No planning for any of these trips or shopping for them. We’ve just been home. Weeding. Shoveling rocks and dirt. Reading in the sun. Walking. Sitting in the sun.
- So. Much. Sun.
My daughter isn’t going back to college this fall. Online classes won’t resume until the end of September and I’m starting to think my summer won’t be over until the end of September… and I don’t know if I can do any more summer!
Essentially, my summer will have extended from mid-march until late-September. It’s not just the endless streak of gorgeously sunny days, it’s what we’ve been doing. Our mindset. Confined to home, we’ve been in vacation mode for months. While still working.
I’m ready for autumn. Cooler mornings for walking and cooler evenings for the firepit. Because obviously, we’ll still be outside doing ALL THE THINGS. We’re going to be confined to these two acres for a while yet. And the fall weather is always gorgeous. We can still enjoy the garden.
I’m determinedly not thinking about winter. Not yet. But in the brief moments that my thoughts do spend there in the future, I can imagine myself composing another blog post, kinda like this one, only in reverse. I’ll be wondering why winter is SO LONG and what happened to summer.
Which means it’s time wrap this up and head back outside to soak up some more sunshine. Store it in my bones for the long, cold months to come.