I am awake. Awake before anyone else in my house. I travel through the rooms as silently as I can, tip-toeing so that I can remain the only one up for a little while longer. The only sound I hear is the distant rhythmic whirring of a sprinkler somewhere on my street. The cats are up with me but they pad around the house even more quietly than I do. The silence is like a delicate bubble with a kaleidoscope of colors dancing through it, which lands somewhere and wondrously, does not burst.
It’s early on a summer morning. In fact I think it’s only been a few days since summer vacation officially began, but I’ve already lost all track of time. It’s the Time of No Time. Is it Sunday? Or Monday? Or Wednesday? All I can be sure of is that it’s dark in my house; the curtains shuttered against yesterday’s heat have remained that way and now hold back the friendly kiss of morning sun. Although I want to open every window and door wide to this peaceful hour, I’ve lived in this semi-arid Sacramento environment long enough to know the drill of Summer: the darker and cooler it is in this house in the morning, the better off we’ll all be for the rest of the day.
It’s a quantum lifestyle leap, being on summer vacation all of a sudden. There is a whole way of living that goes along with it, which includes the daily ritual of sunscreen application before heading outdoors, a “swim basket” by both the front and back door (which is where all the towels, and trucks, and goggles get dumped on the way in or out to various aquatic activities), and an endless amount of sleeping-in. Oh! The Bliss! My number one favorite thing so far in this shift into summertime is NOT having to wake up my tired children and harass them into clothes, breakfast and out the door (all within 45 minutes) to arrive at school at 8 a.m.
Eight in the morning? Hah! It may as well be the middle of the night; no one is getting up at eight around here these days.
Except me I guess.
‘I could clean up I suppose’. The thought flashes through my mind as I start on my second cup of coffee and survey my home. The scene is proof-positive that we’ve been waaayyy to busy partying to bother with domesticity. During the school year I’m always compelled to make sure I clean up before going to bed, leaving a mess in the kitchen for instance will just slow down our hectic pace in the morning. But last night, I drifted off to sleep in a room full of bright light, while my pre-teen son lay next to me on the bed staying up much too late, reading horror stories and blowing his own mind wide open. I couldn’t keep up a conversation and faded to sleep like a child does, wanting to be a part of the fun but knowing I will be the first to succumb to the delicious pull of dreamland.
At any rate, I didn’t clean up and now it’s all here waiting for me; yesterday’s clutter a silent sentinel to our summertime ways. There is evidence of snacking all over the counters – pistachios shells, edamame pods, string cheese wrappers. No ‘real’ meals happening here lately. Towels are everywhere (so much for the swim basket!); towels on the hallway floor, draped over chairs, strewn across beds. There is a strong chance that my six year old went to bed in his swim shorts last night, but I’m not about to go in there and check.
They did swim for hours at my husband’s work party in what they have dubbed “the best pool in the world”. With a diving rock, an artificial waterfall and a hot tub adjacent, my kids made themselves right at home and swam until the sun began to set and their lips turned blue. The littlest one fell asleep on the ride home and the rest of us, exhausted from heat and good food, crawled to our rooms to wile the night away, and definitely not do any dishes.
And now, for a brief moment, the morning is mine. So says whatever little bird that is singing in the tree outside right now. So say my cats, curled up next to me smelling of sunshine. So says the clock whose ticking hands mean nothing to me today. Summertime is a loosening. There are no lunches to pack, no crock-pot stews to fix for dinner. Maybe we’ll eat hardboiled eggs for dinner. I don’t know because I’m not thinking about it right now. And THAT is beautiful!!
My husband once told me a story about when he was a young boy in Sacramento, the summer his little sister was born. His mother ‘developed’ a routine wherein the whole family stayed up late late into the balmy night, playing cards and keeping the newborn baby company. And then, with the topsy-turvy schedule of an infant, all the children would sleep and sleep the day away. They would sleep so long he told me, that even when friends would come knocking to play late in the afternoon, his mother would quietly answer the door and shoo them off.”They’re all still sleeping” I can imagine her saying in a hushed voice.
I admit that the first time I heard this story I felt kind of judgey. I was like, “children need routines” and “what about your bio-rhythms??” and all that righteous stuff. But sitting here in the dim light created by the venetian blinds, I’m thinking that my mother-in-law was probably a genius. If these boys of mine would sleep all day it would be fine with me. If the house stayed dark and quiet and we could revel in our own little sleepy hollow while the sun begins it’s scorching assent, it would all be fine with me.
But alas, the boys of summer will soon awaken too. And the boys of summer are very busy people, once they get going. They play, and swim a lot (have I mentioned that yet?), and climb, and eat whatever they can find that looks vaguely ripe in the garden and drink from the hose. The little ones play dress-up still, leaving a trail of campy pirate paraphernalia in their wake: fish nets, eye-patches and swords. The older one reads…ALL the time. Reads in a tree, by the pool, at the breakfast table. These boys start craft projects and arty things and then flitter off, and we eat dinner on our laps because the dining table is buried in things that “I’m still working on”.
The boys of summer come and go as they please and have many grand plans. And sometimes they forget to ask permission. The boys of summer are naked a lot, and that’s a fact. It’s all well and good in our backyard I figure. Playing with Legos in the nude seems uncomfortable to me, but hey it’s up to them I figure. But the world outside our little reality isn’t clothing optional, and so it takes a barrage of reminders to get dressed before we can head out the door these days…
The boys of summer are more sun-kissed than I will ever be, with their swarthy genetic code they are handsome and alive and timeless. Yes, timeless. It’s as if summer arrives and we get to go back to a way of being that was always there but we forgot about, set aside for the long months of the school year. But at last here we are again and my sleeping boys have become the Princes of the Time of No Time.
Sure, we’ll hit our stride soon and develop a routine within all this freedom. After all there are swim classes to take, and chores to do and a summertime basketball league of course. I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting out my white board soon to assign various summery responsibilities – whose turn is it to water the potted plants on the front porch anyway??
But today, in this quiet moment with the fresh scent of a young day drifting through the windows, we are in a blissful freefall. It’s like that moment right after doing the best cannonball ever, right before you hit the water when everything is suspended and perfect. And yes, the splash is about to hit, as soon as the first of these boys of summer climbs sleepily out of bed, around noon, and asks “ so what are we doing today”…