It is back-to-school in these parts — some starting this week and the rest next — so the park was ours in its entirety this morning. As of yet, we have no intention of turning the page on our mental calendar — It is still summer! And so we will play and run and swim and climb and create just like usual — lingering longer in this time of year, carefree and boundless.
Hot. Gosh, is it hot here right now. The land is crying out for water, the trees are losing their leaves, branches wilting in the blistering heat and we are not even at water restriction (yet) thanks to that crazy wet and stormy spring and all its mud. The ground is split into deep crevices, big enough to turn an ankle, deep enough to drop your keys and never see them again. The plastic playgrounds burn the skin of children, the wasps and yellow jackets so desperate for relief they dive-bomb around our little pool in droves for a drink. Heat like this — a summer like this — is the stuff of my nightmares. For whatever reason, I have always feared having to live in a hot climate, have always shirked at the idea of summer vacations to hot places that just get hotter. Living here is not anywhere close to my ideal– we are not here by choice.
And yet, surprisingly, it is bearable, even joyful. And at times, I find myself truly thankful to live here. It is a gift, not a curse.
This weather forces me to pay better attention to how we spend our hours, the heat pressing our days into a kind of simple fullness. It forces us out early in the morning where we walk or ride to the library or to the market, swing on some swings en route, or pile in the car to a park that is not made of burning plastic or to a nature park or lately, to explore all the missions in the area. It forces us to rest in the early to mid-afternoon when it is hottest–and to really rest–which is something I have never allowed myself to do since having children (and which has truly changed everything about my patience threshold and overall sense of happiness). And it forces us to the pool and swimming and a restful, peaceful dinner-making hour and sharing of a meal (which was always the most stressful, awful part of the day for me) and then outside to play when the sun has lowered and the heat is not so unbearable, the asphalt no longer burning through soles of shoes. The heat seems to make time slow down, to make us slow down.
The heat has given me permission to rest overall, and I have needed it.
I do so miss a cloudy, snuggly day — and I am not fond of an entire year of variations on a theme of summer. I love woolens and quilts and knitting and soup and breads and pink noses, falling leaves, falling snow, flickering candles– all of that. The dreams I harbor do not match this climate, this place–the way I truly want to live cannot be lived in this spot. But we are here for a reason– for many reasons –and so we adapt, we grow, we ask how to make the best of it.
Uncomfortably, we submit ourselves to the Refining Fire, to our being crafted into knowing gratefulness in a new way, to learning how to be thankful in all things– especially in the hot and blazing seasons.