In light of the continuing chaos in Congress and the White House, I suggest we savor summer. In reality, whether you are vacationing or not (I’m not), the pace is slower, the day is longer, the twilight is more delicious. Certainly there are deadlines, but don’t you find people are a little less stressed out about them?
Here in DC, on days when the air quality is relatively good and it’s not too horrendously humid, when the sky is actually blue and there’s even a bit of a breeze, it feels a lot like paradise. In my neighborhood children are rapturously playing and blocks of giant sunflowers greet me on every other corner, filled with goldfinches hungry for the precious seeds. Crape myrtle trees, having peaked in July, are now casting their neon pink petals down on sidewalks. (They have a pleasant fragrance, have you noticed?) Zinnias, dahlias, and roses, butterfly weed and daylilies add to the tropical intensity of color, the bold floral finale that can feel thrilling, if we let it.
It’s a great time of year for jazz in the park, and connecting with nature at it’s most sensual. My son Arran and I are exploring each C & O Canal access point heading north, one by one, hiking at each for about an hour. The canal, it turns out, is in considerable disarray, and in many spots is mostly marsh and mud. Nature abhors a vacuum, and since the canal is man-made and not natural, it is always in the process of filling up, just as a field inevitably becomes a forest. The marshy canal attracts herons, and frogs, which we hear but don’t see, and turtles, which like to sun themselves on logs projecting from the surface of the watery mix, and dragonflies and otherworldly, phosphorescent green algae, which we gape at.
We nearly always see a great blue heron at Carderock, whether male or female we don’t know. Oh, there’s our friend! we say. We googled ‘blue heron lifespan’ and learned that the oldest recorded was over 28 years old. It could be the same guy, year after year! We saw a green heron last weekend, too. They are tiny compared to the great blue. This one was hanging out fishing on the end of a log full of turtles, hunched over, his beady eyes and long narrow beak trained on the water.
I feel like these outings in nature deeply nourish me, fill me up like a cool drink of water and sustain me until the next time and the next. Like food, they become part of my blood and my cells. I need them. The seeds drying on flower heads remind us that fall is coming, and winter and ice right behind, whispering, be present! Be here now, reminding us to savor the mellowness of summer, letting it sink deep into our bones and our dancing feet!
No matter what’s happening in the outer world, let’s enjoy life! And care about this beautiful planet and each other.