I can’t say that it comes as a surprise anymore. Every season follows this same pattern. When the season is a long ways off, I pine for it. In the dark of winter I wish for those first warm days. I wish for melt. I wish for the return of the singing birds, and I count those quiet days. When those birds do return and the melt along with them, I have little use for that variety of in between. The birds are too loud and the melt too messy. I don’t like spring much when it’s spring, and so I go about wishing for sustained warmth, for heat, for bright skies and white topped waves. I spend too much time and even more energy wishing for what’s next.
There was a time when I thought I might be able to slow this wishing down. I thought I’d find a way to live in the season, to enjoy it so much that I forgot what came next. If I fished and sailed, swam and boated, basked and rested, I might be able to forget what came before and ignore what was to come next. I thought if I made every effort to focus on the present I’d be able to enjoy it more. But instead, all that immediate focus made me realize it was soon to pass, and I felt even more pull towards the next thing, that thing that I tried so hard to forget.
Instead of wishing for time to slow, for wishing the season to linger, for wishing things to just be still, I then tried to think less. I tried to just let the season come, without much reverence for it, without the wishing for it to come and the wishing for it to stay. I tried to live without concern for the weather, to live each day in the same way, no matter the temperature or the sun or the month or the shade of the leaves. I tried to wake each day and work, in July as I would January, thinking that this focus might allow me to live more fully, to live more contently.
But at this late date in August, it’s obvious to me that this new attempt has also failed. Instead of living more casually, in drinking the sun in sips whenever I felt like it and in doing so finding more peace and equal rest, I find that my purposeful ambivalence hasn’t allowed any more enjoyment than the frantic focus of prior years. If you wish for summer to stay it won’t. If you trick yourself into ignoring it, it’ll pass just as quickly. These seasons start and they end, and the next season comes. Ready or not.
Today, I know there is still summer left. I know next week it will be warm and sunny, and the water temperature will remain in the seventies, as it has every day since sometime in late June. I know that I’ll have time still, time to boat and to swim and to rest. But I also know that I won’t casually enjoy any of it. I know that I love football season, and I love jeans and boots and orchards and fires. I know that I love this, but I love what comes next perhaps just as much. I also know that I love orchards and jeans and the way the fields turn from green to gold, but I, too, love the first snow and the way a wood fire warms a room.