Andrea here . . . meditating on summer and what it means to me. In the United States, today marks the unofficial start of the summer season. With COVID -19, we don’t really know what the next few months will bring—though it’s pretty certain that Summer 2020 will very different from those in recent memory. We’re all feeling our way through the challenges, trying to inch here and there toward 'normal', as we wonder what 'normal' will be like going forward.
As someone who writes romance, I believe in resilience of the human spirit, and the power of love and friendship to help us triumph over adversity. So I do think we’ll find a way overcome all the terrible things so many of us are facing right now. But I think it’s also part of human nature to be a little nostalgic, and as summer is traditionally a time of long, lazy days in which to slow down and reflect, I got to thinking about some of the things I’ll miss this coming summer.
I’ll miss the sense of spontaneity, which to me is a key element of summer. It’s fun to decide on the spur of the moment to grab a beach blanket and go read on the beach. But these days, one needs to temper impulse with planning and timing.
I’ll miss the traditional rituals of summer in New England, like my small town’s funky little Fourth of July parade, which draws people to set up their lawn chairs on the grass while children take delight in the youthful tradition of selling lemonade from homemade stands.
I’ll miss the festive summer beach dinners for the major holiday dates in the season, where families gather at tables set up in the sand to feast on hot dogs, hamburgers and cake. As dusk falls, there’s often music on the beach pavilion porch, where everyone—from toddlers to their grandparent—dances to the beat of summer golden oldies.
I’ll miss traveling. Summer is usually the time I try to take a big trip, especially overseas . . . recent trips have been to England, where I loved exploring Oxford and London, and to Switzerland, for hiking in spectacular beauty of the Alps. But this summer, flying feels pretty iffy. So likely I’ll be sticking close to home. Which is fine, but I think what I’ll really miss is the sense that exploring is possible—that at the drop of the hat, I could choose to pack up a duffle bag and zip away to somewhere exotic. Now, the world seems so much . . . smaller.
I’ll miss just picking up the phone and suggesting inpromptu gathering on the beach for a glass of wine with friends, or taking a picnic somewhere. Those things may be possible, but will be more regimented as to locations and numbers. I’ll also miss those casual hugs one exchanges when getting together with friends. Those physical connections, however brief, are emotionally important. However, we’re all being much more careful.
And I suppose ‘careful’ sums up in a nutshell how we all are approaching life these days It’s of course, wise, but I can’t help but feel that mindset changes—however slightly—that ‘anything is possible’ sense of exploration.
To end on a more upbeat note, there have been some silver linings in the dark clouds. My college roommates and I started having Saturday morning Zoom chats during lockdown and are having such fun together that we plan on keeping it up. I also talk on the phone with my family a lot more often. The pandemic has heightened the awareness not to take the meaningful people in my life for granted.
I find myself paying even more attention to the simple beauties of Nature and the everyday world around me. I’m more mindful of all the little things that add texture and color to life—and am very thankful for that.
So, for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, what traditions or activities will you miss in the upcoming summer? And for those of you in the Southern hemisphere, what will you miss about the upcoming winter? Have you found any silver linings in these current stresses? Please share!