an article on "how to blog" said never, never talk about the weather. "But you don't live where I live," I reply in my head. The article also said to be sure to break the rules...
The month of August has never been so beautiful, not for all the summers I can remember (outside of the Colorado Rockies, in which August is actually akin to autumn in the rest of North America, so that’s cheating…). We have spent the last two summers away from home, and the sweetness of this summer at home seems new and luxurious. The day’s harvest: the last handful of raspberries, a bouquet of black-eyed susans, a spray of spearmint for my favorite iced tea.
Generally, I agree with Robert Farrar Capon’s assessment that August is Hell, that direct all-day overhead lighting looks bad on all but a few human beings. Waking with a shine on my face before I’m even out of bed seems an ill omen of the day to me. But this August is different. The locals will complain it is too cold, it is not summer at all. I say let them. The thermometer has barely grazed eighty degrees and the breeze is endless goodness, coming off the ocean. And somehow in all this not-too-hot weather, the Atlantic is at its warmest, quite bearable. Last night the kids and I packed ourselves home from the beach when the sun dipped too low, seven-thirty.
The printer is spitting out instructions for lanyards made of “boondoggle” or “gimp,” to which my children were introduced at summer camp. ( www.boondoggleman.com, if you want to play, too.) Yesterday, the counselors divvied up supplies to children and we will be boondoggling for awhile, my Madeleine thrilled to make bracelets, zipper pulls. I laughed when I saw it—summer camp thirty years ago relied on the same kind of projects, and of course with a quick refresher I find it delightful, too. I think of Billy Collin’s poem about making his mother a lanyard at camp, feeling sure it was an equal exchange for all she had given him thus far… The boy’s teenage counselor gifted him with a book of paper airplane designs, and he said thank you by diving headfirst into the tall boy’s belly, an earnest goodbye.
The boy also rode his first wave yesterday, on a borrowed boogie board. Two years ago the boy had a three word vocabulary, and last year his conversation was still low-key, particular to just a few settings. Now his words flow, sometimes maddeningly, at me in endless streams. How delightful to hear him talking to the waves, to his borrowed boogie board: “I am waiting for The Big Wave. Are you The Big Wave? I will wait. It will come. I am waiting. Waiting. There you come. Let’s go.” Throws himself, kicking like mad, onto the board and onto the wave, which takes him all the way to shore, his dark eyes blinking out the spray. He is still not interested in water in his face, on his face, but he may get past that very soon.
And while my two built a sand bakery with their pal, Taylor, I practiced solo Frisbee, the disk soaring back to me in the strong wind. Boomerang exhaustion, perfect end to a day.
I am an imperfect parent, too often irritable and flying by the seat of my pants. Writing seems like an exercise in narcissism, often tempting me to leave all the undone projects still undone in order to noodle with words. But oddly life-giving, too. At its best, it is an act of gratitude, of weaving this life all together, better than boondoggle. I am thankful for this day, thankful for these children on this beach, thankful for my husband down the highway tutoring teenagers in reading skills, all of us giving life to our work, big and small.