I couldn't help myself today. It just burst out of me:
"Summertime, when the livin' is easy,
fish are jumpin', and the cotton is high,
Oh, your daddy's rich, and your ma is good lookin'
So hush little baby, don' you cry!"
So blue the sky. So warm the sun. So green the earth. So much it is not winter. Not even spring. And so obviously summer.
For this day I just want to be done with city driving. With formal streets, and close houses, and rigid sidewalks, and barriers to freedom. Things that fence you in, and tie you down. And set their noise and humming and honking around you, so that it's harder to hear the birds who are trying to sing to you.
Give me the old wood road - Hodsdon Shore Road - that winds down through the pine woods to the blue of Lake Ossipee, with the breeze coming down from the north, and the beach warm, and my racing shell and canoe within steps of the water's edge ready to take me for a morning row, and a swim, and later when the sun is down, to the quiet of the river, with the sudden sight of wild flowers among the grasses on the bank. Each day a discovery, a surprise.
And then Freedom Bob in his home-made kayak and Janet the boat mistress in her two-tone fancy kayak close behind. They look, and watch, slow down, with bemused faces and shout country greetings, to float a bit, and talk for only minutes. I'll see them later after they've crossed our bay, had a swim, and are heading home.
Further up the river I'll yodel toward Carolyn and Kenny's riverside house, and she'll call back and maybe even come out to tell me news of her dogs, or of the ducks she's feeding daily on the short slope that comes down to the river's edge.
At last I'll see the bridge, my destination, and then turn around and head for home myself, never knowing who - or what - yet will come into view on my way back toward the lake. By late summer the sun will be low over the Ossipee range, and my own shore will be shadowed, and the lights in Molly's kitchen will be visible through the trees, and there'll be supper and a bit of TV news, and after, reading by the fireplace, and talk of the day, and plans, and people...
Scripture is usually reserved for the breakfast table in summer, and prayer as the day begins.
I feel the need of that life that Molly gives to me, for the world I've loved since childhood, and what the sight of it does for the soul, and then later, finds its way onto reflective pages that become books, when the long thoughts of life are recorded, and kept and maybe sent out to others, who may, one day, be curious.
For summer, for whiling away, filling up, drinking in, and then coming back to the world of so many people we love, and will long to see.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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