2008/07/28

Midsummer's breath

Today is the last Monday in July. This morning, I felt it. Did you feel it yet where you live? It's the air. The light. Every summer there is a day when the morning is cool enough for me to wimp out and make the pellet stove go for awhile to take off the chill, but I've left a few of the windows open for freshness. The day will warm up to nearly too warm by the afternoon, and then settle down in the evening again. This first breath - it's not going to stay. It's not autumn tomorrow or anything like it. This first breath is a promise.

The green surrounding me now is dark and lush and deep. Spring came and went, and this is high summer. Nothing looks tired yet. No color has faded. Right now, the land is just pregnant enough to be big, but not uncomfortable. This is what growth feels like. After a few more spates of real heat, and after a couple of spectacular thunder and lightning storms and perhaps a day or two of huge, splashing raindrops to really soak everything before the autumn comes for real, then we'll feel the real thing. This isn't the real thing. This first breath is just a thought. It's midsummer now. This is midsummer's breath.

I wonder ... do the generations of the Norse who came before me still pulse in my body's veins? To stay up all night - into the midsummer's midnight - to
head off to a lovely summer party under a Nordic sky that never quite gets dark before the sun rises once again.
... this seems to me to be a thoroughly good and sensible idea. There is something of the earth and the sky and the sun and the seasons crying out to be celebrated. No. Not crying out. Whispering. Breathing. Tempting.

Last year and the year before, I don't think it hit me like this. But this year I've started a blog about our adventures in homeschooling, and I think that's made everything come back to me in a rush. I can almost smell newly sharpened pencils. Ghostly visions of stacks of filler paper and new books accumulating in readiness float past my mind's eye at random. It's the air and the light - it's time. Get ready. Here it comes.

When I was a kid, this weather was camp weather. Little kids went to camp in June. Older kids in July. By this time of the year, it was high schoolers, and I was one of them. Every year, I was a camper. And I really do not like camp life. I don't like showering at the pool house, or sharing a sleeping cabin with eight people I don't know, or hearing another mosquito in my sleeping bag where I'm already suffocating and sweating with the top pulled closed in a vain attempt to get away from the nasty things. I don't like the smell of the bathrooms or the persistent dirt under my fingernails. I still feel the place in my back that was hurt when I fell wrong on the trampoline one day.

Nothing about camp as camp was the least bit happy-making for me. But every year, I was a camper. I took pictures, and I did love riding horses, and I can still go a little glazed at the smell of certain paints and solvents because they're the smell of the craft room. I made friends, and took an autograph album and/or an address book every year so that I wouldn't lose them when the week was over. And I would like to get back on a trampoline ... after all, it feels like flying.

And midsummer is about new clothes, too. This is the weather for fabric and pattern shopping. Perhaps it is the time of year when she had enough time to devote to it -- or maybe this is when she didn't have enough time to put it off any longer. Or, maybe this is the time of year close enough to the fall for it to be at least a little likely that I was the size (translation: height) I was going to be for the school year. Whatever the reason, this is the time of the year when my mom and I spent hours and hours in fabric stores, choosing the materials and patterns for school dresses and skirts.

We had a system. We looked at patterns together, and then we looked at fabrics together or apart (to cover more of the store), and then at Notions. (Do regular, non-sewing people know what Notions are? -- They're things like zippers and thread and trims and hem tapes.)

When we got home, we washed the fabrics, and then she laid out patterns on the fabrics, and I cut things out. She sewed and clipped. I clipped and took out basting. Sometimes I also ripped things out and she sewed them back together the way she'd meant them to be in the first place.

During high school, I did most of the sewing myself - but mom always did the zippers. I still remember some of those dresses I made for myself. At this time of the year, the sewing machine (the old one, from those old days, that now lives here in my house) joins the whispered hints of the coming autumn. I walk by, and I can almost hear it.

Midsummer's whispers woke me this morning. Can you hear them where you are? I'm sure it's different in different parts of the globe, but here, this is when it happens. This is the morning. Today. The first day of the year when I woke before everyone else in the house, and wondered whose voice I had heard in my sleep. On the way back to consciousness I realized I was fully under the covers because it was just chilly enough for that. And then I opened my eyes and saw the light. The earth is full and almost ready to spill over, and I feel my arms opening to gather it in.

2 comments:

Joanne said...

This post is beautifully written. I like the story of sewing together with your mom. How moving that the sewing machine is part of the midsummer's whispers, fall is coming. I haven't felt midsummer's breath yet, but I know what you mean.

Sarah Menck said...

Stephanie, I am so very happy to find your blogs- especially "What I know now". You're my new very favorite blog-stop! Keep it coming- the encouragement and inspiration you offer to those of us at the beginning of the homeschool journey is tremendous. Thank you thank you thank you!!!