When I was growing up we didn't really have a flower garden....
Or a greenhouse. Or a lot of open space where the sun would beat down.
We had trees. Trees. And more trees. It was cool under their big wide branches. Even on the hottest days in August, when the crickets would snap, crackle and pop. It was cool there, and you could hide from the sun.
"All in all, it was a never to be forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world."
—L.M. Montgomery, Anne's House of DreamsMost of my afternoons were spent reading on one of the old wicker lounges. It was cracked and worn, covered with early autumn leaves. If you didn't keep your feet out of the sun they would burn.
My mother would join me,most days, later on . I kind of liked my alone time out there, surrounded by a forest. But she would come out there, nevertheless.
She always wore a bright caftan at home, and it's folds would spread all around as she sat at the old table, under the trees. She always had some old book with her. Usually classic poetry. She loved books. Especially the old poetry.
"Summer continues by force to grow days. They sprout secretly between the chapters of the year, covertly included between its pages."―Jonathan Safran Foer, Tree of Codes
I would hear the pages turning and wait for it. The reading aloud of poems so full of thees and thous, and forsooths, that I never thought it would end. She would read aloud for ages. Cutting into MY time.
The sun would beam lower, and my mother would drone on and on and on. Shelley, Keats, Pope, Emerson........and the light would shift as the day toddle farther into evening.
"The morning heat had already soaked through the walls, rising up from the floor like a ghost of summers past."
―Erik Tomblin, Riverside BluesDay after summer day she would read aloud. Hawthorne, Rabelais, and then one day it was Shakespeare. My quiet time to myself was now full of "heavenly woes" and "sessions of sweet silent thought". My mother read aloud as much Shakespeare as was humanly possible to absorb.
I learned that Shakespeare wrote at least 37 plays and 17 comedies including The Merchant of Venice and Much Ado About Nothing. I learned THAT and didn't know that I learned it.
"The world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside."
―Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy and TibMy mother spent quite a few summers reading aloud under the trees. For years I could not have cared if I ever heard another poem by Lord Byron. But now, some time later, I find myself scouring those old books again. Thinking about those days when my mother would invade my "space" and insist on reading Robert Browning.
Something must have stuck, because they are my go to most days. I can't get enough of Stevenson,Emily Dickinson, Milton.......
And part of me wishes I could sit with her on the porch and once again hear her voice reading: "What matter to me if their star is a world" Mine has opened it soul to me; therefore I love it." ( Robert Browning) Everything good comes round again.
"The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last for ever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change."―E.B. White, Charlotte's Web