Two weeks of summer vacation done and gone, holy cow! And the hot, muggy Chicago summer has begun in earnest.
Gone are the manic-depressive weeks of sixties one day, eighties the next, keeping jeans and shorts, tank tops and sweaters, all on hand because I never know what I’ll walk out to in the morning. The summer schedule is always looser: later starts at camp, no homework, and ooohh, the longer days! The extra sunlight saves me every year. Just as I think I’m going to lose my mind from the dreary gray of this lakeside climate, I’m suddenly able to start a 90 minute bike ride at 6:30pm and still get home before dark.
Every year it feels the same–summer sneaks up on me in late June, arriving suddenly and with great force, like opening the front door to a smothering blast of hot, humid air. But sometimes I’m able to pay a little more attention, and I may notice the trees budding and the crocus shoots pushing through still-cold soil, as early as April. The Transition is actually quite long. Maybe it’s Mother Nature’s way of teaching me patience. Every year I lament (loudly) the halting, stuttering, ever agonal and prolonged Chicago ‘spring.’ I swear, it feels like winter refuses to let go its death grip of cold and clouds; it must be pried away like the fingers of a long dead frost bite victim, hands wrapped around the city like a vice, contractured muscles rendered immobile at a cellular level.
But now it’s officially summer and I’m going to make the most of it. My youngest is getting confident on her bike. Soon we can all get out on the lake path to access Chicago’s beaches, no fighting for parking. We will also be road-tripping more this year–why else should I have the giant SUV with such a sweet sound system?? I will weed that garden, plant more herbs, and use them all up in my recipes this year. We will visit the Art Institute, go to free concerts downtown, and spend as much time outside as possible! Hallelujah, it’s SUMMER!!!
Now is the season to reframe my use of time, to do it better. Perhaps this Transition has also been more gradual than I realize… The urge for more efficiency and productivity has lurked around my consciousness for a while now. So many things to do, so precious little time–take care of patients, participate in professional societies, present talks on physician wellness, spend quality time with the family and friends, move my body, eat healthier, and write this blog!! This year’s spring to summer Transition feels in some ways, so typical, and in others, a little revolutionary.
I have ten more weeks to make it all count, and then the next Transition begins–summer to fall. That may be my favorite part of the year–harvesting apples and squash, putting the cozy sweaters back on, and witnessing the visual symphony of leaves turning. Somehow I’m always able to slow down and savor this period a lot more easily; it feels more peaceful, less frenetic.
How fascinating! I’m in such a hurry to escape winter’s cold, dark grasp, that I miss (or ignore, fail to appreciate?) the small but reliable signs of a Chicago spring. But then, after a couple months of sweltering heat and humidity, I welcome the crisp autumn air–I relax. And though I know the long, dark winter approaches, I can revel in the colors, the school supplies, the new academic year. Our friends who left for the summer return, and I look forward to the holidays, with the food, the gatherings, and the exchanges of greetings, gifts, and warm wishes… And did I mention the FOOD?? 😆
So I set myself the task hereafter, to slow down and Hold the Space for Spring, the most challenging Transition of the year here in Chicago. I can continue to practice patience, calm, and appreciation for all that nature must do to bring forth the glory of summer here. Maybe I should set an alert to reread this post next March…