The Heady Days Of Summer Have Begun
So summer is finally, officially on. Yesterday we passed the solstice, the longest day of the year and as is usual for this part of the country it was a fine event. A pleasant 70-degree day, a slight ocean breeze and puffy clouds that floated lazily by in the sky all day. It brought back a mix of emotions for me, the complicated compilation of a lifetime of summers past. And I felt a need to write about it.
My first thoughts were of my childhood summers in Denmark, of days alternating between play and work. There were many hours of solo exploration in the forest hunting down old Viking graves and their ghosts, collecting wild mushrooms and playing in the chilly ocean waves with my friends. In between the play we painted the house, mowed and weeded, learning about all the various plants, herbs and trees in the garden. To this day I still only know the names of most plants in Danish.
And then there were the hours of rest. If I close my eyes I can still envision the hammock under the silver birch by the entrance of our driveway. It would sway in the breeze and I would sway with it, listening to the birds fluttering in the leaves and the honey bees buzzing around the summer flowers. The motion was almost as soothing as the sea. Those were the days of youthful joy and childhood nostalgia.
Summer also brings back strong memories of wanderlust and travel. As a student I traveled every chance I got, and the summers were my most adventurous. Money was always tight (which I imagine is typical for all students), so I subsisted on baked beans (the UK equivalent of ramen noodles) and supplemented with part-time jobs so I that could squirrel away some £’s and squander it all backpacking on the cheap in exotic lands.
I saw lots of places in those days from the remote islands of Indonesia to the Amazonian forests of Venezuela, sometimes from the back of a local bus filled with chickens and pigs, sometimes from the trail with nothing but my pack and a single change of clothes. It was exciting, somewhat dangerous (oh, the stupid fearlessness of youth), but ultimately very liberating. Those were the days when all of life was ahead and anything felt possible.
This time of year also brings a certain sadness. It’s close to this time, just last year that I lost my mother. It’s been a long year since then and many of the harshest emotions have passed, replaced by softer thoughts and gentler memories. I’ve grown closer to my father (something I deeply cherish), and we’ve celebrated many “firsts” as a new family….first Christmas, first passed birthdays. Each first creates a new memory and a new future, but there will always be a lingering ache. Thus is life.
As an RVer summer combines a all those things and more. It’s a crazy time when families pour out in masses for summer vacation, packing campgrounds and parks to the brim. The activity is energizing, but also makes RV travel more onerous requiring reservations and planning (sometimes months in advance) if we want to park “the beast” anywhere close to the “prime” spots.
Typically we opt to settle down somewhere and volunteer, choosing areas that cater to both our travel lust and our need to be restful and close to nature. On rare occasions we travel, either by choice (as we did in 2014 when we drove up the Olympic Peninsula) or by need, as it seems we will this year. But no matter where we go all those mix of memories are still there.
Yesterday as I sat outside my RV in the grass under the shade of the black cottonwood, I could hear the birds fluttering in the trees and the light ocean breeze moving through the leaves. I closed my eyes and I moved with them, running back through the film of my memories, and the complicated mix of my emotions. I re-lived the sadness of my mothers passing, re-felt the excitement of my youth and re-followed my life’s story all the way back to that day in the hammock under the silver birch in Denmark.
It feels like I’ve lived a long life, but I know it’s probably only half of one (at most, I hope). The heady days of summer have just begun and there are many more memories left to make.SPONSORED LINK: SPONSORED LINK:
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