For weeks now, we’ve all been storing up memories of summertime to last us through the coming winter. Unlike many June through August periods when we were blessed with warm breezes, this summer was something of a scorcher. But still, for those who live in the infamous “snow belt,” summer is a hard-earned prize, not to be taken lightly, but to be embraced and savored.
So, hot or not, this summer was another gift for relaxation and family enjoyment. It’s been a time of outdoor living, of fresh vegetables from the garden, picnics in the park, boat rides on the lake, school reunions, concerts at twilight and lightening bugs dancing in the night.
Songwriters have saluted summer with praises down through the years. “Summertime and the Living is Easy,” “In the Good Old Summertime” — there are countless tributes to the blessings of the season.
But summertime is a fleeting lover. In June, she dances in with skirts flying and flowers in her hair. She entertains with festivals and fairs or simply periods of rest and relaxation. Then, when summertime puts on her August finery, she turns her face toward the coming of autumn. That’s when we all suddenly realize these fun in the sun days are numbered.
Her visit is all too short in this part of the country. Perhaps that’s why we try to cram every minute with activities. Though we planned, back in late May, to make this a time to recharge our internal batteries, we’ve often been caught up in the seasonal whirl that swept us from June to September with hardly a chance to catch our breath.
Long ago I read about a wise old woman who cautioned her grandchildren that summertime, like life, should be thought of as a jar of pebbles. She told them, “The jar seems so full that you’re certain you can remove the little stones at will without ever diminishing the supply. But, inevitably there will come the day when the pebbles will be gone. For that reason, remember to take out each stone with care and thought.”
The trick is to withdraw the pebbles one at a time, carefully examining each. Enjoy the way it sparkles and shines. Notice the lights and darks. Value every small stone as a one-of-a-kind treasure, for during this glorious summer, each represents a little piece of a time that will never come again. You’ll never have another chance to own this particular summer. After it’s gone, your life will hold one less of these after-winter rewards.
Yet, if our summers were endless, we wouldn’t treasure them as we do. It is precisely because they are finite periods that we anticipate them so. If summer lasted forever, it wouldn’t feel the same, taste the same, delight the same as it does.
No, especially in this final month of the season, it’s time to slow down and savor. It’s time to rediscover who we are, reassess where we’re going and renew the kid in ourselves that wants to play, but also knows when to rest.
Take the last few pebbles out of your summertime jar carefully. And, as you do, be sure to savor each and every one.