Summer Change

By Beck

Summertime drives me a little bit crazy. It’s great in theory, but like many things that are great in theory (holiday dinners! getting married!), it’s a whole lot irritating. It’s too hot much of the time, and the kids are fretful and melting, little sweaty people whining to go inside and watch some tv now, puh-leeeeez mom. And if it’s not too hot, it’s raining. And there’s something else, too, something hard to articulate – we’re not used to spending so much time together, now that the older two are in school full-time, and they’re not used to having to play together all the time like this. So the first couple of weeks were troublesome, full of shrieking fights and me walking around with a headache.

This past week, though, has been a full change – The Girl and The Boy are now getting along so much better, playing happily (well, reasonably happily) from one end of the day to the other. And we had one of those perfect visit’s to a friend’s house this week, the kind where the kids played beautifully with each other and there was good adult conversation and the sun was shining but REASONABLY and not like it wanted to sear our faces off. And tonight we sat in my parent’s yard and made s’mores and tomorrow we might go off and pick dusty blueberries, letting them fall into plastic margarine tubs, letting our hands and mouths get stained purple, bringing home enough blueberries to make… oh, probably one sparse blueberry pancake.

This is the peak of the summer. This is it, the very sweetest time of the year.

From this point on, the days are going to start getting shorter. Summer will start winding down over the next couple of weeks and we’ll get busy with buying new school clothes and pencils and backpacks, eventually. Maybe we’ll get tired of these bright, hot days, tired of the sweetness of berries in our mouths, the vivid prettiness of flowers growing wild in fields and ditches, tired of long, lazy, pleasant days. It feels crazy to even think about it right now, right in the middle of a near perfect week, my children sleepy and blond from the sun and friends again, crazy to think that this should ever, ever change.

Life does change, though, the days shorter than they were two weeks ago, The Boy running downstairs with a tooth suddenly missing and a new jack-o-lantern grin, and the strawberries we picked last week rotting quietly in the back of the fridge. The Girl likes to press flowers, and a few weeks later they come out, brittle mementos of something pretty and fragile, something that has passed. Oh, summer.

Beck also blogs at Frog And Toad Are Still Friends.

52 Responses to Summer Change
  1. hyperactivelu
    July 17, 2008 | 8:46 am

    I’m so thankful for the changing of the seasons! I look forward to Fall and Spring! My favorite is Fall though….and I can’t wait for the crisp in the air!!!

  2. Julie Bo Boolie
    July 17, 2008 | 11:22 am

    I confess I’m far more attached to autumn than summer so these next few weeks will go slowly for me. Still, there is something to be said for ice cream and BBQs 🙂

  3. Anita Jo
    July 17, 2008 | 11:22 am

    Yay for your first post here!

    I grew up in the Midwestern U.S., where summer was ridiculously, steamily hot, and endlessly long. I’ve now lived in New England for 13 years, but I may never get used to the fleeting almost-summers here. There are days that are so deliciously perfect, I pine for them all year, but they are so rare…and over so quickly…”brittle mementos of something pretty and fragile”…Indeed. As usual, you capture it so well, the essence of summer in a northern climate.

  4. Stacy
    July 17, 2008 | 11:26 am

    Summer is not nearly done. I refuse to believe it.

    Beautiful post, Beck.

  5. Cristan
    July 17, 2008 | 11:49 am

    Lovely as ever! I love the line about the strawberries quietly rotting…poor unwanted fruit.

  6. Steph
    July 17, 2008 | 11:49 am

    Sweet post, you have a way with words! My favorite season is fall, but I always feel a little bittersweet about the passing of the summer months and the start of the march toward winter. Time just seems to pass so quickly, especially when we have little ones highlighting its passage with new phases in their lives.

  7. christine
    July 17, 2008 | 11:56 am

    i would go pick blueberries but my ungrateful children won’t eat them.

  8. LoriD
    July 17, 2008 | 12:10 pm

    Canadian summers are far too short. I can bear the thought of back to school shopping and gearing up for a long season of Almost winter-Winter-Almost the end of winter.

  9. Nowheymama
    July 17, 2008 | 12:28 pm

    And this is why I am madly freezing jams and fruits–to have a bit of summer to enjoy in the winter.

  10. Woman in a window
    July 17, 2008 | 12:36 pm

    Very lovely, these trasitions. Personally, I can’t wait for fall and not just for school to be back in. I like the flux of the seasons to a point that might be a sickness. Plus, the kids and I totally love fall, the reflection of us eating dinner in the dining room window, spooky decorations for, should I say it? – Hallowe’en. But for now, I’ll take my sick kids on the couch and the doors closed tightly against the humidity. I wish it would rain!

  11. Kelly
    July 17, 2008 | 12:54 pm

    Summer is precious and fleeting for those of us in Northern climates. I think that’s why few of us long for fall, which is really just the weeks before winter begins. Again.

    I love summer, Beck, so this post made my heart hurt, just a little. I hate to acknowledge its passing.

  12. Bon
    July 17, 2008 | 1:06 pm

    there is something about summer that makes it hard for me to believe that it will ever end, too…even though it’s short where we live, it’s such a physical, tangible season for all the senses that it seems harder to live in my head this time of year. it’s a respite, in a sense.

    and then fall comes, and i am happy to return to my head. 🙂

  13. Kathryn
    July 17, 2008 | 1:12 pm

    It is always shocking to me that by the end of summer I am excited about Fall. I just can’t imagine wanting summer to be done right now.
    Ah summer.

  14. Rosebud & Papoosie Girl
    July 17, 2008 | 1:15 pm

    That is exactly how summer feels sometimes, so high with expectation and in reality hot and sweaty and a little too close for comfort some days.

  15. chickadee
    July 17, 2008 | 1:37 pm

    ah it’s just getting started. don’t rush it away so soon with thoughts of school supplies (though they are cheap right now)

  16. Becky
    July 17, 2008 | 1:57 pm

    I have a good friend who lives way, way north of me, up in the very tippy top of Wisconsin. Her summers, she tells me, are short and sweet. She plants flowers that freeze out before we turn off our air conditioner down here. I think about her every year at this time, as I know they are at their peak.

    Great post, beck. And welcome to the new place. I’ve never been here till you mentioned it this week.

  17. Maddy
    July 17, 2008 | 2:09 pm

    We have a few more mornings of summer school and then it’s time to down tools and attempt ‘hanging out.’

    I suspect that only Americans can ‘hang out’ properly, or possibly Australians.


  18. nomotherearth
    July 17, 2008 | 2:23 pm

    This summer is just whizzing by – I can’t believe we’re almost at the end of July! Then comes fall, and time to start thinking about going back to work (!!) – maybe. Thanks for the reminder to appreciate the now.

  19. Susanne
    July 17, 2008 | 3:09 pm


    One of the weirdest things about summer in these parts for me is that while June and July are often hot and perfect for going swimming in the lakes our summer break only starts at the beginning of August. Each an every year we dream of going to the lakes and of bike tours when we’ll have time while we melt away behind closed doors and windows at work. Then, when summer break comes, there will be one day or two that are nice, and then the rain starts.

    I like fall better, to be honest.

  20. Alyssa Goodnight
    July 17, 2008 | 4:11 pm

    The end of summer?? Ha! Summer weather won’t be over here till mid to late October. Sure we’ll go back to school and kids here will try out their new fall outfits, wandering around, drenched in sweat in jeans and sweaters, but it’ll still be steamy hot, like going to summer school.

  21. Guinevere Meadow
    July 17, 2008 | 4:55 pm

    You have just described a perfect summer’s day.

    I wish I lived someplace where the seasons actually differentiate from each other!

  22. cinnamon gurl
    July 17, 2008 | 5:36 pm

    I’ve been noticing the shorter days. And for the last week or so I’ve been fretting that I’m not enjoying myself enough, that the summer will end and I’ll wonder (once again) where it went and what I did with it.

  23. PastormacsAnn
    July 17, 2008 | 5:41 pm

    Wow, Beck. Bravo! Nice job of catching that melancholy feeling I’ve felt quite often about summer and early Fall. Wonderful! 5 Minutes for Parenting made a wise choice in selecting you to write for them. Looking forward to many more posts.

  24. Barb
    July 17, 2008 | 6:40 pm

    What a beautiful post, Beck. Congratulations on a great debut at 5 Minutes for Parents.

    Reading this makes me wish summer would never end. And that’s saying something, because autumn is my favorite season!

  25. mimi
    July 17, 2008 | 8:45 pm

    Oh, Beck: me too–I totally start the countdown to winter on June 21st. I’m a fatalist like that.

  26. Heather
    July 17, 2008 | 9:41 pm

    Our summer is nearly over. My daughter starts school July 30th. This summer went by so quickly.

    I love the tone of this post. Lovely.

  27. Michelle & Kayla
    July 17, 2008 | 9:57 pm

    You’ve captured summer perfectly!

  28. crazymumma
    July 17, 2008 | 10:25 pm

    I never tire of summer.

    We have a snowball in the fridge. We keep one each year. And then one day each summer we just take it out. to remember.

  29. Sue
    July 17, 2008 | 11:02 pm

    Beck, I have loved your parenting insights for a year. My kids are grown. But all of sudden – I get another chance at parenting! I get a six month old grandson for 15 months while my daughter is away in Iraq. Sad for her – but very fun for me. And now your column means even more – thanks.

  30. Minnesotamom
    July 17, 2008 | 11:14 pm

    Oh, summer, indeed.

    You know what image I cannot getting out of my head after reading this? Strawberries rotting LOUDLY in the back of the fridge. As in, they scream as if being tortured while their flesh rots away. Terrible, terrible me.

  31. Omaha Mama
    July 17, 2008 | 11:18 pm

    Aw, I used to press flowers. I have this old wooden book that my great grandmother used to do the very same thing. I need to go dig it out and show my B. I only did it for one summer though. What a faint memory that it, so thanks for reminding me!
    I have three weeks till I’m back to the teacher gig. Just over that and school’s in session. Kids here start on Aug. 13th.
    You are right though. It is all so wonderful right now, right at it’s peak!

  32. Elizabeth Channel
    July 17, 2008 | 11:26 pm

    I can relate with the rotting strawberry thing. I took my three children and two others strawberry picking several weeks ago, and was astonished and horrified to learn that they were able to pick $98.00 worth of strawberries…we made every conceivable strawberry concoction and still had strawberries rotting…molding..making me feel guilty…

  33. Nora Bee
    July 17, 2008 | 11:46 pm

    I know exactly what you mean. I always hate summer but then I’m a little sad when it’s over. Nice job!

  34. Jennifer
    July 18, 2008 | 12:09 am

    It doesn’t matter how tired we get of the hot summer by the end of September, there is still a nostalgic twang when it’s finally over…

  35. Yamile
    July 18, 2008 | 12:13 am

    I love Summer!!!! I just bought my DD a shirt that says, “I never ever want Summer to end.” However, I also love the change of seasons; and Autumn is a favorite.
    This Summer, even though we’ve had a lot of fun, we really want it to end quickly. My husband has been working out of state since April, so this year, the end of Summer means, Daddy is almost home!

  36. bee
    July 18, 2008 | 7:16 am

    Oh, I struggle with this too! Especially now, when I feel like I’m not in control of my emotions!!

  37. Cyndi
    July 18, 2008 | 2:15 pm

    Our summer has not been nearly long enough. I have wanted a nice, lazy summer, but I have been way too busy. Hopefully things will slow down soon!

  38. bren j.
    July 18, 2008 | 5:00 pm

    I was just thinking about summer this morning and how it’s mid-July but it feels like summer is *nearly* over! Ack! But then, what is summer for us except another season. I suppose that will change drastically when we have kids that are school-aged.

  39. Marta
    July 18, 2008 | 5:30 pm

    Great first post! You express the emotions so perfectly!!

  40. chelle
    July 18, 2008 | 9:42 pm

    It was one of the many things I missed about Canada, summertime. We have been so blissfully happy this summer being back.

    I am glad you are having a wonderful summer as fleeting as it is.

  41. Melissa
    July 19, 2008 | 7:59 pm

    When we were children, summer was this endless succession of days filled with swimming pools and popsicles.

    The older I get, the faster they go. It makes me sad, even though the heat around here is gawd-awful.

    I think my rotting strawberries in the fridge may be calling to yours. 🙂

  42. sarah
    July 20, 2008 | 11:50 pm

    Picking Blackberries with a Friend Who Has Been Reading Jacques Lacan–Robert Hass

    August is dust here. Drought
    stuns the road,
    but juice gathers in the berries.

    We pick them in the hot
    slow-motion of midmorning.
    Charlie is exclaiming:

    for him it is twenty years ago
    and raspberries and Vermont.
    We have stopped talking

    about L’Histoire de la vérité,
    about subject and object
    and the mediation of desire.

    Our ears are stoppered
    in the bee-hum. And Charlie,
    laughing wonderfully,

    beard stained purple
    by the word juice,
    goes to get a bigger pot.

  43. Beth - total mom haircut
    July 21, 2008 | 12:11 pm

    Lovely post. Personally, I always loved the time where we started getting ready for school, of course it’s hard to see summer go, though.

    And congrats on writing here!

  44. janethesane
    July 21, 2008 | 10:07 pm

    I have handpicked sweet cherries rotting in the back of the fridge. We are practically step-cousins.

  45. Patois
    July 24, 2008 | 9:56 am

    What a beautiful post, Beck. I’m always sad the day after the summer solstice, noting that day and for many days after that the days are shortening. Kinda not unlike my life. And my kids’ childhoods.

  46. amanda
    July 24, 2008 | 3:44 pm

    Beck, you never disappoint. Here’s hoping the rest of your summer is as sweet as the season’s first strawberry…well, you know, the first *sweet* strawberry of the season.

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