The most melancholy and tragically beautiful thing about summer is that it is much too short.
Think of the first time you looked open a child’s impossibly innocent face—what did you envision the time that you first felt protected by someone you loved? Think of that feeling that we get in the wildness of youth when unbridled and fearless passion shows up on just the day you had expected it would.
We usually look back on shorter seasons with a sentimental longing and an eerie feeling that if there was only more time, perhaps everything may have been sorted out—or at least played out with the right balance of lightness and tragedy.
We might easily fantasize—in our whimsical sorting of them—that our love affairs lasted much longer, if only summer had done the same.
Or perhaps we wished that the wildflowers escaping brightly and briefly through the jagged and softened cracks of concrete and steel and in between the wired meshes of industrial art bend higher to the hottest of suns.
Oh July and August, I often sing, if these months could only triple in length, may I have stayed in love? And would I have been surrounded longer by stark gardens and the longing of a particular man’s dark eyes as we whispered right through autumn?
On this windy day, as I recall solid and rare days of my youth while stepping through brushes and ashes of neighborhood alleys and along the winding shores of childhood fables, I feel sympathetic to each affair of my heart that never had the chance to blossom before fading.
Once, when I was younger than anyone can imagine—round-faced, a dark head of curled wonder, and impossibly bound to all of the optimistic beliefs of naiveté—I fell in love with the youngest boy who ever graced the Californian poppy-lined street on which I lived.
While filling my yellowed cotton dress pockets with the cracking of leaves, ladybugs dotted with red and silver edges and with wild berries that dusted my feet near every turn, I saw a young boy by the shadiest and widest of ocean-topped trees.
There he stood, staring up at the canopy of sky and heart; at the dark shadows of cascading and withering; at the places in between the shimmers of branches where only the light spoke, and the future danced endlessly beneath his never-before-landscaped feet.
He looked to be about eight years old but had a chiseled and dimpled chin like that of a soldier I once saw a photograph of in a newspaper that told stories of a long-ago war. He had eyes of hazel and green and brown, and hair of both black and gold silk that reflected the pardoned youth that he held in his pose.
Glancing back at me, he beckoned me over. As I danced towards him, the gathering of nature’s brilliance spilled from my pockets, but that did not stall my legs from skipping that much faster. For as he spoke, so did the summer’s hot-chill—in a more sweet and trustworthy way than it ever had done so before.
We might have stood underneath that tree for only an hour, or perhaps for two or three, or maybe as a narrative of just twelve minutes, as the sun warmed our backs and our necks with a puzzling sense of youth that suddenly seemed drawn out in a length of years, instead of only moments.
Today, I am not so young as I once was. And today, I am not so old as I will be in a few winters or so, when I hopefully will not lose the sense of the freedom and warmth of hot young summers that inspired me to love so deeply that I can no longer visit the memory without falling.
If I am fortunate enough, I may still meet a stranger to two, or visit some long lost friends with a twinkle of Indian summers still gleaming in their colored-aged eyes as they invite me for new afternoons when I may feel a hint of wickedly happy youth again. I’ll see them with a surge of rendering passion and surrender felt right down into my bones, my veins, and my pulsing heart.
When my father was younger than he is today, and when he looked like a Russian and Irish prince that perhaps in the past might have scanned the sea for fellow passengers and foreigners, just to protect our family from harm, I knew that everything would be okay as long as summer came.
I remember him telling my siblings and I that we were a family and that this was good—something to be brave and fight for. In the impossibly late evenings of summer, his words of faith and strength echoed through the winter hills and into our home like a never-ending draft of sonnets and light.
Once, when I was about three, I leaped upon his shoulders as he carried me to safety during a violent earthquake. He stood me on top of his roaring height with the protection of a million fathers before him and told me that the earth would soon stop shaking, and I believed him, and it did.
My mother also graced the season of longer suns with a beauty that cannot be accurately told, assumed, or possibly be remembered in a passage that it so deserves. Long dresses of flowing silks and chiffons seemed to always followed her bare Japanese feet, while she carried large and small plates and bowls of humbled culture food from both East and West.
She would sweetly sing about what each dish meant and what part of our universe they derived from.
When my mother spoke, she only knew how to tell stories and fairy tales. She both whispered and sang songs of lessons and morals, warned of us of evil queens and of fairies who never found their way, and about children who failed to listen to even older tales that sowed their fate. She often told us these lessons as she braided her hair to one side of her face that shined more than the other. Afterwards, she often just floated away into the summer’s air of another evening burst of childhood, of family, and of generational longing.
My daughters are growing up now. This is the summer when, for the first time, they do not seem like children, not even a little bit. This makes me fall down and beg the heavens for more time. It makes me want to change back the passage of time and still hold them at my breast as I did when I was only but a young girl myself.
As I watch their limbs stretch longer down into the earth, and also up towards the forgiving sky, I already long for the days when they were too young to understand the beauty and ravages of time.
But here we are, and here am I, not too much older than they, and yet sworn by oaths of loyalty and promise to them as their mother. It is as if I am only still seventeen and unspoiled, and at the same time, at least a thousand years old, on this one long day of summer, that craves a few naps and dances with my daughters loved ones than I can possibly summon.
Do not only long for it—taste it now, because you are still here to do so.
Drink the droplets of summer’s dew, walk the late evenings with a humble bow, kiss your lover as if it were the first time.
Promise yourself that this season will last until the end of your days, because it can.
You only need to welcome it in, and invite it to stay a little longer.
20 Quotes Inspired by Summer
“How sweet I roamed from field to field, and tasted the summer’s pride.” ~ William Blake
“I know I am but summer to your heart, and not the full four seasons of the year.” ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
“In the depths of winter, In finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.” ~ Albert Camus
“It’s not that bad. I’m not saying I’d like to build a summer home here, but the trees are actually quite lovely.” ~ From The Princess Bride
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listing to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” ~ John Lubbock
“Warm summer sun, shine kindly here. Warm southern wind, blow softly here. Green sod above, lie light. Goodnight dear Heart, good night.” ~ Mark Twain
“In summer, the song sings itself.” ~ William Carlos Williams
“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” ~ Sam Keen
“But thy eternal summer cannot fade.” ~ Shakespeare
“People don’t notice whether it winter or summer when they’re happy.” ~ Anton Chekhov
“A life without love is like a year without summer.” ~ Swedish proverb quote
“It’s designed to real your heart. the game begins in the spring, when everything is new again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops, and leaves you to face the fall alone.” ~ Bartlett Giamatti
“Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled blamed for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world.” ~ Ada Louise Huxtable
“I know I am but summer to your heart, and not the full four seasons of the year.” ~ Edna St. Vincent Milay
“Summer afternoon, summer afternoon, to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” ~ Henry James
“Ah summer- what power you have to make us suffer and like it.” ~ Russel Baker
“A summer’s sun is worth the having.” ~ French proverb
“It was a splendid summer morning and it seems as if nothing could go wrong.” ~ John Cheever
“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn, a mosaic of them all.” ~ Stanley Horowitz
“The quarrels of lovers are like summer showers that leave the country more verdant and beautiful.” ~ Susanne Churchod Necker
Author: Francesca Biller
Editor: Renée Picard