The lilacs have been glorious. Now in their dying they seem to release an even more intense sweetness that stirs memories of my childhood on the farm I grew up on in Virginia. We had lilacs that grew all around our farmhouse. One pale lavender bush, in particular, was right under my bedroom window. A soft breeze would often bring its fragrance through my window. For us then, school was done and the whole summer stretched out ahead of us. It may have been only a few months, but to us it was an eternity. We could look forward to riding our horses, going to the beach, and visiting our grandparents on a Maine island. And while we all moaned at the required reading list sent home with us on the last day of school, my brothers and I secretly all loved to read. We spent many hours holed up under a tree or under an umbrella at the beach devouring tales of kings and queens, soldiers and sailors, knights and nurses, and birds and spiders.
These days I feel time in such a different way. Summer is a very busy season where we live on the coast of Maine. Every week there are art gallery openings, county fairs, concerts and visitors from away. The grass needs mowing, flower beds need weeding, vegetables need tending. And as always, I know exactly how many days it is to when our children arrive for their summer visit, something I have been looking forward to since Christmas when they were last here.
I suppose one could say that the reason this is such a packed season is that summer is so short here in Maine. But that is ridiculous because as children our window of summer was just as short. It began when we got out of school and ended when we had to go back. I think it is all about how we experienced that time as children. Then we didn’t wonder whether it was Monday or Saturday, we took the day as it came to us.
How I would like to recover some of that sense of timelessness. It happens when I am with the goats. It happens when I take Wesley for a walk. It happens when I make cheese. But the rest of the time, I have to really work at it to slow down. June gives us these long, light filled hours perfumed by lilacs and roses, and ripening peas, and sun rises and sunsets that are dazzling. You’d think I would feast on these instead of noticing them and then rushing off to do what comes next. I want to stop caring about what comes next and start being more present to this season.
I want to remember that where I’m going is not as important as where I am. I suspect it’s time I looked to my animals, once again, to teach me. When I take Wesley for a walk, where we are is the only place to be in the whole world. When the goats are out in the meadow, they do not rush from one fence to the other, they graze slowly savoring every blade of grass and every wildflower around them. When I make cheese, the cultures make me wait as long as it takes and they pay no attention to what comes next.
It’s up to me to allow the child in me to reclaim time so that I can pull up my chair to the feast. Only then will I be free to float out onto the lake and in its reflection of sky and tree and rock and me know the wonder of becoming one with the timelessness of the universe.