21 June 2005

(and the living is easy)

today is the first day of summer. though it began for me last week when I spotted the soft flicker of the lightening bugs in our front yard just as it was starting to get dark. something happens to me when I see the first of the lightening bugs. I get all silly and giddy-like inside because I know summer is coming and I LOVE SUMMER. this is my favorite time of year. oh, summer. I forgive your steamy, stifling heat and relentless swarms of mosquitoes because you are summer and I love you.

so I saw the lightening bugs and grabbed ava from inside the house and we spent fifteen minutes chasing after them. the scent of honeysuckle was in the air (another telltale sign of the season) and I felt the corners of my mouth turn upward, could not stop the dorky grin from spreading across my face. I started to think about why I get so crazy over this time of year and my mind went in a thousand different directions. my summers have always been so unapologetically full of the most fantastic things. adventures and travels, life-changing events. all of the very best things of my life have taken place during the summertime. summer of 1985-- met nancy (my best friend in the whole wide world) at church camp. summer of 1989-- traveled and performed all over japan. summer of 1990-- met and fell madly in love with artboy ward (am resisting the urge to share deliciously steamy details here). summer of 1994-- married the love of my life. summers 1997 and 1998-- attended the american dance festival at duke university in north carolina where I spent seven hours a day studying dance and watching the best modern dance companies in the world perform (each morning began outside with african dance class, always with live drumming. these summers will forever be marked by my complete immersion in dance. it was like a dream and I loved every second of it. truly, the best times of my life). summers 2000 and 2004-- my babies were born, those beautiful persons that I thank God for every single day (even when they are making me crazy), that ava and that ezra.

historically, summers have been a good time for me-- really, a very good time.

and if all those spectacular things had not happened to me? I would like to believe that I'd still be crazy about summertime. because the strawberries? the peaches, the watermelons and the blueberries? it feels good to let the juices run down your chin. there are flowers and gardens everywhere-- daisies, cosmos and black-eyed susans to be seen! right now, there is a lavender hydrangea bush in our front yard with blooms as big as ezra's head. how can you not love that? soon, I will clip some to bring inside and the sight of them (in the midst of the everyday dirt and clutter) will make me very happy. and there are drive-in movies, cherry-flavored snow cones, yard sales (for DAYS), reasons to paint toes bright pink, impromptu road trips, swimming pools and family barbecues. I also relish the ritual shedding of the many, many layers of clothing. to wake up in the morning and throw on a fresh cotton tank top and flimsy skirt, slip on my favorite red flip flops... 'tis a joyful thing, my friends. if skin could squeal with glee, it would.

summer screams liberation and possibility. I sincerely believe that I am hard-wired to see the season through these eyes. a good deal of my childhood was spent waiting for the moment the bell would ring on the last day of school-- it was the beginning of freedom. growing up, my summers were all about exploring, creating and reading, swimming and playing, getting dirty. weeks were spent at my grandma and grandpa's house, church camp, family vacation. days and days where all you had to worry about was how you were going to spend your days. and then I was a teenager, and summer was suddenly all about boys, tans and weekends. I am remembering how my friends and I used to slather ourselves with baby oil and iodine and layout on foil mats (WHAT WERE WE THINKING) and don't you know that someone's jambox (yes, jambox) was playing prince or the cure or some such eighties tunage. see, I can't turn off that part of my brain that identifies summer with freedom and fun. well, I refuse to. summers as an adult aren't nearly as carefree now but I like to pretend that they are.

a couple of years ago when we were living in our old house on montgomery street, we took ava out for one of our night time walks. we were looking up at the moon with her when we noticed something else-- the trees surrounding our house seemed to be twinkling. it took us a couple of moments before we realized that the trees were actually filled with hundreds and hundreds of lightening bugs. we stood in silence, completely dumbstruck by the sight. it was so strange, so beautiful. it was as close to magic as it gets.

this is summer.


  1. Oh how neat. I haven't seen fireflies in ages. I don't know if it's because of where I've been living or if it's that I just haven't been looking.
    Happy Summer!

  2. Brilliant words, my dear Andrea. You capture the season in all its wonderful glory. Makes me want to paint my toenails pink! WooHOOOO! Thanks for making my day...

  3. Andrea,

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog and leaving your kind words. I've been away from the blog world for a bit (update on the blog of course) but hope to back into the swing of things now with the calmness of summer approachings...and some extra time to surf the web thanks to a little ankle injury.

    I grew up in Western Nebraska and Eastern Colorado and because the climate is much drier there, fire flies are not as commom a site in the summer like they are here in Iowa and Atlanta...two much more humid environments. The first summer we lived here I felt like a little kid, going outside as the sun start to set just to see the masses of fire flies. They are an amazing creation.

    I love coming to your blog because it reminds me (as you hit on earlier last week) that even though we have to be responsible adults now that we're 30 something with kiddos, it's ok to be silly, and PLAY!

    Here's to summer! ~ Jenn

  4. thanks for bringing back my lightening bug memories.....it's been years, as we don't have them here in b.c. but one summer holiday our family was somewhere camping where there were those magical bugs in the air. what a wonderful childhood memory when you first discover these amazing creatures. those and flying squirrels...

    happy summertime!

  5. whenever people ask, favorite season? I automatically say, summer. I'm not sure it REALLy is my favorite nowadays, but it will always hold that special place in my heart. I'm a summer birthday girl, and so is Jaylie. You've GOT to love a birthday you can have outside.

  6. Andrea:
    This was like a painting - but with words. I could feel the summer and taste it. The colors were warm and vibrant, too. Love the way you write. It puts me right there! Thanks, sweetie.

  7. its funny you mention the fireflies. growing up in Washington state I had never seen them before, only read about them in books when I was young. i remember living in Cincinnati, my first summer there, and I was out with your brother one night. we were sitting outside and it was dusk and suddenly i saw some little flickers of light! i was SOOOO excited. i kept telling him "look! look! fireflies!" he was like, "Yeah....big deal." but it is now such a special occasion each summer as I see them arrive.

  8. What a beautiful picture you painted and what memories you stirred! My twin and I used to catch as many "lightning bugs" as we could and put them in a jar! We would take a nail and drive holes in the tin top so they could breathe and we would have so many in there it looked like a lantern! What wonderful and amazing creatures God has created for us to enjoy! Thanks for the tremendous painting in words.

  9. wow, I loved hearing all the lightening bug/firefly stories and so glad to discover that I'm not the only one who has an appreciation for this lovely summertime insect.

    and jenn-- it was a pleasure to visit your blog (and comment)... thanks for visiting mine and leaving your sweet words as well... hope your ankle heals soon... enjoy your extended stay in blogville!