Summer

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"Summer was on the way; Jem and I awaited it with impatience. Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape; but most of all, summer was Dill."

―Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Summer was always one of my favorite seasons as a child. It meant lazy afternoons reading Zane Grey novels in a slowly swaying hammock.  It was carefully placed under the shadow of two ancient Cottonwood trees at the back of the Main House; as we referred to my grandmother's house at the ranch. Monthly visits delivered these precious books from the county Book Mobile, our little library on wheels. A concept today that seems almost as odd as telephone party lines. Summer was about hours spent on horseback exploring our ranch and endless Monopoly games with my brothers and Aunt Winnie.  And summer was for watching intense thunderstorms that rolled across the western sky showcasing Mother Nature's immense and terrifying powers. It meant traveling to my brother-in-law's ranch outside a tiny town in central Nevada to work cows and briefly experience a way of life that still calls to my soul all these years later.

This summer is one that will stay with me forever. It was the summer that we as a family gathered in London for two and a half weeks to watch my daughter Lauren say goodbye to an extraordinary career as a professional ballet dancer. We laughed, we cried a lot, and we did our best to support her. We watched her begin to make the transition that in many ways and selfishly if I am honest, none of us wanted to see her make. Her body had finally made the decision for her. The time had come. Despite suffering from a level of pain scarcely anyone but a Navy Seal could endure, she went on stage for the last time.  We watched and held our breath as she danced for 25 minutes in an achingly beautiful and heartbreaking way to say farewell to her dream, her life as she had known it. She did so in the best possible way she could, on the stage in front of awe-struck fans. She closed the chapter on a life spent honoring the art form she has loved since the age of three. 

"August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time."

―Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

August is my Sunday night. It stirs in me old familiar feelings from days gone by of impending school nights, early bedtimes, and the reluctance that comes with facing inevitable change. In a last-ditch attempt to hang on to summer just a little longer I have escaped the oppressive summer heatwave we have been having in Virginia and settled back in our Alaska home where the days are still long, and the towering fireweed is a beautiful shade of fuchsia. I will spend 2019's final summer days planning for the next few seasons at the farm, exploring a little of Alaska by ferry, taking long road trips with my husband and our dogs, reconnecting with friends I haven't seen in months, and watching my daughter embark on the next chapter of her life as a full-time student. Who knows maybe she will even let me take her school shopping for old time's sake!

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Camilla Strongin