Summer is nearly over – that which a few short months ago hung heavy with promise – May evenings drenched with the fragrance of pollen. The tempting stroke of sunshine on shoulders, inviting us to play, to dance. The long days creating that illusion of time, of endless hours to enjoy the warmth, the light, the rampant, glorious life.
But as the nip in the air brings the reminder that September is coming, I look back at the dying summer and think, “It`s nearly over – did I do all those things I will long for during winter`s cold grey? Did I appreciate it while it was here, make the most of it?”
Did I have enough barbeques?
Go on enough walks through ripening fields?
Watch enough sunsets?
Spend enough time noticing, appreciating, relishing rather than sat inside with my eyes on a screen?
My restless questions all come down to this- did I make enough memories this summer, or let it slip by?
Do I have any late-summer regrets?
My answer, this year, is fewer than most.
There were a lot of firsts for me to remember –
First trip to another continent, including first long haul flight.
First time seeing the majesty of a natural wonder anything like the scale of Niagara Falls.
First time spotting turtles in the wild, chipmunks, huge birds of prey so close I could almost stretch out and touch them.
First time making s`mores on a beach fire, as the setting sun turned the water a thousand shades of pink.
My son caught his first fish, using flour and water for bait.
Did they make this summer worth it – enough?
Worth the money I could have spent on finally getting my bathroom fixed?
But for me, what this made this summer enough, was that while visiting Canada, we got to know some of my dad`s family.
I spent decades with selective mutism feeling awkward around people, finding meeting strangers or those I haven`t seen for a while at best challenging, often excruciating. I have to work hard at extended family gatherings not to feel out of place, boring, too quiet, a little bit odd.
So, there was a twinge of apprehension about going to stay with a cousin I`d had maybe two brief conversations with at a wedding years before, who also happened to be from a different culture and continent to me.
Oh my goodness.
I found my people. My species. My tribe.
I found someone else who memorised the name and location of every U.S. state for fun.
Someone else who never “did the ironing” or painted her nails.
People who loved walking in the middle of nowhere, and baking, and buying heaps of vegetables direct from farmers, relishing the challenge of how they were going eat them all.
People who were calm, thoughtful, generous. Who had plenty to say about things that mattered without making a song and dance about it.
I felt at home. Like I didn`t have to try. Totally unapologetic for being me.
Whew. I don`t feel that very often with people I don`t know well.
But. As I feel the nip in the air, hear the rumble of gears as we head into a new season, I`m thinking about this…
Next summer I will be 40. The first grey hairs and laughter lines, the creaking bones of autumn are starting to make themselves felt.
So – how do I feel about what has gone? Was it enough?
Did I get that at the end of summer, the memories I care about are all about connections?
Did I not only make time for them, did I dare to let people in?
I`ve had a lot of years where I haven`t managed this very well. A lot of time wasted worrying about what people thought, convinced it wasn`t good.
A lot of years trying to invite people in while keeping the security chain on the door.
But the great news is, of course, that September beckons – a new start, new season, another chance to think about the memories we are making. And, as the book of Job says, “As long as the earth remains, there will be…summer and winter”. We don`t know how many more summers each of us has, but as I ponder one more nearly over, I hope I`m going to make the most of them. Make some memories. Make some connections – real, deep, authentic ones.
The peaceful connections with those who are my tribe, and the adventurous ones with those who aren`t.
So – how about you?
What firsts have you experienced this season?
What memories have you made?
What makes a summer “enough” for you?