Summer Seconds


Megan SwoyerAs late winter turned into spring, I began to see robins and heard more songbirds outside my window. Sitting in my favorite chair early every morning, with the window just a foot away, I listened closely; the sounds of spring are like tiny refreshments for the mind! I’d been cocooned in quiet for several winter months, with just the sound of whispery, swirling snow and wind. Hearing those little birds usher in spring lifted me the same way I’m buoyed when a tulip tip pokes above the earth. You know something good is coming.

Now we’re entering into summer, when we really try to be present in the moment. Although it’s barely begun, it seems so short. Summer seconds — each like a spark on a sparkler, with brilliant effects and a mesmerizing white glow — always seem to end too quickly! Wave it! Make those patterns in the dark before the flame goes out!

Every season in Michigan is finely tuned to the five senses, but summer is the year’s opus. If there’s a season that defines sensory overload, it’s summer — when all five senses are turned up to high volume.

Sight: Waterfront sunrises and sunsets begin and end your day, and gem-like reflections sparkle on the lakes. (I can still see my mother-in-law peering out our cottage window, saying, “Look at those diamonds on the water!”) Swaying, verdant green Great Lakes dune grass mingles with creamy sand and a cerulean-blue sky.

Taste: The ribs aren’t done until my brother-in-law passes out lime slices to spritz atop his glazed, drippy sauce. Rinsing fresh strawberries from a local farmer’s field takes me back to my mom’s kitchen, where her July strawberry shortcake featured a warm Bisquick pastry base with just-whipped cream (always with a smidgeon of vanilla). Fresh, golden ears of corn burst from the stalk come August, and are quickly met with a little butter and salt. Speaking of salt, summer’s the only time my husband uses it; he sprinkles it atop fresh Michigan Early Girl and Beefsteak tomatoes. Cherries and blueberries and vineyard visits — the list of the delightful tastes of summer goes on and on!

Touch: Barefoot explorations along the shore are a real treat. I like to feel the cool water rinse over my feet. Little sand pebbles and stones are made silky from the sun and water, and the Petoskey stone in my hand is cold and smooth. When I wade out into the lake for a refreshing swim, the sand beneath my feet feels soft and rippled from the constant ebb and flow of the current.

Hearing: Overnight campers on Lake Superior drift off to sleep to the sound of big-lake waves.  My bicycle wheels spin and whir in harmony with songbird trills. Canoe, bodyboard, and kayak paddles dip slowly into the water. Babbling brooks and waterfalls create their own music. When I hike I’m on high alert, trying to catch the distinct calls of an eagle or a loon.

Smell: The quintessential summer scent? A campfire and its unmistakable smoky aroma. Fourth of July means encountering the sulfur-y smell of firecrackers. And how about a Michigan cherry pie baking in the oven, the almond-cherry filling merging with a buttery-crust aroma and wafting through the house? Meanwhile, farmers markets and flower stands are teeming with just-cut blooms awash in purples, pinks, yellows, and more, their scent a mingling of sweetness.

These sensational seconds slip into minutes, hours, days, and weeks. Relish them, because they’re what summer is all about!

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