The promise of summer sustained me through the bleak winter months, when I pulled fuzzy socks onto my cold feet, hibernated with my writing, and started yet another diet hoping to fit into last year’s capris.
Summer has a way of leaving only good memories in my brain. It’s the same feeling I have after I’ve treated myself to smooth orange sherbet on a push-up stick.
The ever-beckoning promise of summer calls to me from December to March. So I’m disappointed when plans for paradise don’t quite pan out.
How could I have forgotten the yard work? This week, my husband and I risked a heat stroke while we cleaned up. Our rose bushes were overgrown, tangled, and thorny-dangerous. Bamboo gone wild threatened to take over the crepe myrtles. A fifteen-year-old fence still needs painting—badly. Rickety stairs, warped picnic table slats—you name it. We’ve got lots of work to do.
Vacations can go a little off track, too. The horrible weather that swept through the Midwest last week caused my son’s flight from Chicago to be cancelled. To make a long story short, he ended up driving in the pouring rain to Indianapolis at midnight. Yes, he finally made it to the Jamaica. Yes, he had a great time. But where does he plan to go next year? Yellowstone.
The beaches of the Florida Panhandle are sugar-sandy and the water is blue and inviting, but 2011 might be remembered as the year of the jellyfish. Over 400 stings were reported there over Memorial Day weekend.
But jellyfish, or any other salt water menace, won’t keep me away from the beach this year. Just like it won’t dim the perfect memory I have of a day at Destin about five years ago. I can close my eyes and feel the gentle ocean waves lapping around my waist. The fair skies cast a canopy of dazzling blue over my head. My two girl-trip friends and I basked in perfect relaxation. I took a “mind snapshot” that day. It’s one I won’t ever forget.
All of this is just to say paradise usually can’t be planned. It’s a gift. Like the day when my two-year-old grandson picked up the water sprinkler and doused his father from behind, laughter erupting from his mischievous heart. Or when I noticed how the deep green leaves of my new peace-lily plant perfectly highlighted the white, ethereal blooms.
Paradise can be found while sitting on a porch rocking chair, listening to crickets and watching fireflies dance through the yard. It can be glimpsed on a late-evening drive home from the grocery store when the setting sun dazzles the sky with sun-lit orange and purple.
Reality and disappointed hopes can sting like Solarcaine on a sunburn. But paradise—when it sneaks up from behind and surprises me—is a gift of grace. Summer gives me a little peek into eternal perfection.