Kerry Temple '74 | June 30, 2018
A summer night can feel like black velvet — the air as close and warm as the living land’s breath. You can feel it on your skin. Gentle waves stir the trees, float rumors that the playful god Pan is afoot. Magic distills in the sweet-scented summer nights of memory — fireflies, hide-and-seek, ghosts in the graveyard. Here’s another.
It is August a year ago. My wife and I have retreated to a little town in southern Indiana — a spry country village given over to gift shops and antique stores, handmade furniture and good things to eat. We’ve done that all day and have found the third-floor balcony of our B&B, overlooking the back alleys and parking lots a block off Main Street.
We sit in rocking chairs. We look out over rain-puddled rooftops and into windows glowing amber in the dark. The afternoon downpours have traveled into the forested hills along the southern horizon; lightning flashes — mute and distant. There are stars now and a breeze and the papery scuffling of voices as late diners head to their cars or duck into darkened doorways. We bathe in our reveries, no words between us.
This getaway weekend celebrates our wedding anniversary and my wife’s birthday at an age that ends in zero. Our three children are back home with grandparents. They have just turned 6. They will start all-day kindergarten in a week; the carefree, wonder-full years coming to a close. My two grown sons both married last spring. My parents are recently gone, my 89-year-old mother not inclined to stick around long after my dad died, leaving my sister and me to clean out the family home a few months ago. So it feels right to sit in silence and take it all in.
The rush of life carries us along so, that it’s good to step out, sit down, survey the vista from a lookout when you get there. Even though any finish line is temporary — with more demands barking up the road a ways — a deep breath and downtime are good. Idleness is not just the devil’s workshop. It can heal the soul, let the psyche rest and reconnoiter, give space to thought and the imagination. We all need summer in our lives. And in every season.
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