First day of summer — our summer, which is defined not by equinoxes nor the wax and wane of the moon nor extended daylight but by the APS (that’s Atlanta Public Schools to the uninitiated) calendar.
It’s an odd construct, that calendar: it has little to do with the natural world, and more to do with … God knows what. I mean, school starts back up on August 10! When we will still be limp with heat, enervated. Sapped. The nine-months-on, three-months-0ff school year may have been conceived of as a helpmeet to a farming society requiring many hands during the harvest months, but now the kids have to go back to school in what was once high summer, according to a timetable as vestigial as the appendix or the stump of a tail.
But all that is months away and neither here nor there — for now it’s glorious summer. When we can throw off our fetters and live by a more natural clock.*
First day of summer! The pole beans twine up the bamboo teepee installed in April, two handfuls already harvested, so crisp and sweet they don’t even make it in the house before they’re gone.
The Chadwick Cherry (a tomato) is already taller than even the elder of the Girleens, flaunts an inkling of the fruit to come.
My intent this morning — before dawn, when the Girleens are still luxuriating in that first summer lie-a-bed — was to marry the sublime to the mundane and mention the Go Slow Hour we’ve helped organize for the neighborhood from 5 – 6 tonight, the viral call that’s gone out for everyone who lives here to celebrate the start of summer by going outside and visiting with friends and neighbors. By slowing down.
It seems like a no-brainer, but here on the south side of the interstate in one of the U.S.’s largest urban areas, if you don’t actively think about such things, the majority of folks tend to view summer not as a time when neighborhood kids are out riding bikes, playing hopscotch, in short doing exactly those things that we used to do back in those halcyon days of the mid-seventies when we were so often left to our own devices but as one when crime rises and they have to batten down the hatches (ie, lock those windows and stay inside).
Yes, I planned to talk about how we’re all going to head outside with our chalk and bubbles and balls and just why that might be important — which is delineated much better here — but all that seems the work of a woman with her head still in the lists and musts and shoulds of the school-year.
Instead I will drink coffee in my pajamas. It’s 6:53 a.m. The girleens are still abed. It’s glorious summer.
*All of us, that is, except The Husband, who dives back into the mainstream after the unexpected break from it that started back in November (you know, that rite of passage for certain levels of worker bees these days called being laid off.)
It goes without saying that we’re all extremely grateful he’s back in the swim.
I also suspect he may be secretly overjoyed not to have to spend the summer at home with two kids, the eldest of whom started, less than 24 hours after school got out, declaiming that she was already bored.