In Michigan, the corn has grown taller than me, and that means we are past the mid-summer mark here in the Midwest. I always have mixed feelings at this time of year.
On the one hand, I long to shake off the heat-induced lethargy of the “dog days.” As the temps and humidity hover in the 90s, I feel like an old-time Southern belle languishing on my settee. Yet it’s also bittersweet to know the days are growing shorter, and that can only mean the inexorable march toward the gloom of November.
Mixed in with these feelings is my excitement as the school year looms ahead, this year with plenty of angst and uncertainty, to be sure. But my daughter will be starting college, a new chapter in her young life, and I’m thrilled for all that means for her. It won’t be the freshman experience my three other children had. Only a quarter of the student body will be on campus, most classes will be online, and masks will be required everywhere. Yet my daughter will be meeting new people – hopefully lifelong friends – and learning new things, most especially a greater sense of independence and the joy of deep thinking.
By mid-summer, I have made great headway in my reading list but very little in my to-do list of projects I routinely put off. Because students are on vacation, I have the sense that I too have been given permission to loaf around, eat too many sweets, and drink wine with dinner every night. This feeling suits me just fine – until it doesn’t. I get restless and suddenly spring up from my couch, put on my sneakers, and head out for a little exercise.
Last week, my husband and I hosted our first social engagement since the coronavirus hit the United States. We had another couple come over, bringing their own wine and even wine glasses, and we sat six feet apart on our screened-in porch. It was so pleasant to catch up with our friends on a warm summer’s night.
Next up on the reading list is Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. On TV, I’ve been watching a light confection called Sweet Magnolias. It has been a good counterbalance to the dystopian nightmare scenario of Brave New World, which my daughter and I recently binged on the new Peacock streaming service.
My husband has been cooking on the grill, and I have been baking in the early morning before the heat of the day sets in. Soon it will be time to purchase items for my daughter’s dorm room and make our plans to travel out of state to deposit her safely at school.
The sweet corn will soon be harvested and the fields laid bare. Watermelon will be on its way out and Honeycrisp apples on their way in. I plan to savor the remainder of summer in the Midwest and look forward to the glories of fall.