Summer has its own special feel. Part of that is the heat and part of it is the lightheartedness that comes with this season. Many people take vacations and long weekends and there is an air of celebration that seeps in with the longer days. Even those of us not taking time off, we celebrate in our off time, the evenings and early mornings, the weekends.
I am warm, my body a bit of a furnace. I used to hate being hot as a kid, and now I revel in it. Hardly ever am I cold. I bask in the heat after a long hike or an early morning run. I revel in the warmth when I sit on the patio in the morning, drinking coffee. I reflect in the evenings, sitting on the patio, drinking iced tea or lemonade, the day’s heat just beginning to fade. Some days, when I want something a bit stronger, I go for a gin and tonic, the ice cubes clinking in the glass. Other days, I pour a glass of red wine and drink in the warmth.
My apartment is cool, sitting in the shade of the big pine tree out my windows. I turn a fan on to circulate the stagnant air when it gets hot, and I keep the patio door at open at all times to bring in the fresh air of summer. When I need to, I flip the switch on the swamp cooler to bring in some cool, but mostly I take in the summer heat. I use my old-fashioned tricks to keep cool: loose clothing and a wet washcloth for my forehead at night.
I have four sundresses, long ones, that I keep in rotation in the summer. Hardly, do I ever wear them out to run errands, but they make me feel like a fashion plate at home. They also do the trick of being loose and keeping me cool. Even better, I don’t have to wear much underneath them while at home. I wear them to wash dishes, make the bed, scrub the tub, vacuum, put wet laundry on the dry rack, fold clothes, and to make food. Even now, I’m wearing one, one foot tucked under me while one foot is flat and knee up. With the longer dress and this pose, there is no risk of flashing anyone (even though I’m alone at the moment). I feel glamorous while sweaty and lazy. Actually, mostly I just feel comfortable.
My younger sister would laugh at me right now. When we lived together as adults, she used to call my one (at the time, my collection has since expanded) longish sundress a muumuu and it wasn’t a compliment. I kept the dress, but generally would wear it only when she wasn’t home. Now, when I get home from work, or in my long morning before work, my home uniform is the long sundress.
Summer is as much a feeling as it is a season. This summer has been hard, and a bit weird. I tremor at headlines and wonder what I can do. I think about the heat and the larger implications that go beyond the summer. For now, I focus on my own stuff. It’s not that I’m in denial of the larger world, but I work to find the place where I can do something and make a difference. I focus.
In my own personal private space, I have renewed and repaired ties with a friend. I feel a new confidence, based in long-term deep healing, that goes beyond a temporary feeling. I called out another individual’s behavior, while acknowledging my own, and feel no remorse, only relief, and think that I may have burned the bridge. I write blogs for a new website launching in the fall. I write essays for a book I’m working on. I ponder and research career and job and schedule changes. I make dinner and invite a friend over. I go for runs in the early morning and map out hikes I haven’t yet taken in the Sandias. I go for swims in the mornings after my runs and ride my bike on the trainer in the evenings after work. I start a new yoga practice. I water my house cacti with my wastewater. I make a big list for this next year. I dump my food waste in the compost bucket. I try out new recipes with old cupboard staples. I call my mother. I text my sister. I try out doing laundry by hand. I listen to old favorites on CD. I read book after book after book.
All the while, I wear my long sundresses and feel the comfort and freedom.
I take a break, bare feet resting on the patio railing, long dress swishing around my ankles. I take a sip of summer iced tea. I relish in the heat and the feeling and the sounds of summer, cicadas and crickets.