My wife and oldest daughter are playing cribbage at the dinning room table with the dog napping in the corner nearby. My youngest daughter is poking away on her laptop while our two grandsons are napping. This is recovery time.
I took my three-and-a-half year old grandson “fishing” early this morning near Long Pier. (Compatriot columnist Jackie Augustine is my witness as she saw us while on an early lake walk herself). It was parenthetical fishing because we never even got a nibble. No problem, I had prepared a passel of snacks to keep the young angler occupied. Upon our return he enthusiastically regaled his mom and others with tales of our great fishless adventure.
When I was oh so much younger, and we still had a family cottage in Northern Michigan, I would take my four children out in an aluminum rowboat powered by a small ancient motor. Four fidgety kids dangling barbed hooks in a small space is not for the faint of heart. Just yesterday my daughter was reminiscing about it and asked what possessed me to do such a thing. Well first, I told her, because my dad took my three sisters and me fishing in the same boat with the same motor and some of the same poles and reels, and unlike me, he didn’t even like to fish. But also, it was our vacation and my wife, a full-time mom at the time, highly valued those slices of alone time.
We had another parental escape in those days that liberated both of us within our kingdom of small children for a brief period each day: F.O.B. Flat On Back time. They could sleep or not sleep but they had to be on their bed with only a book or single toy for amusement. It gave us both a small retreat in the early afternoons while on vacation.
Summer is as powerful and overwhelming a season as winter, even though it wears the shrug of a slow rolling mood. Here is what I mean. I work part-time as a pastor but am also self-employed as a writer. Creative work, any art really, requires a fierce discipline to funnel attention to it with a routine that is like the dedicated hours of any job. My routine tends to be to write in the mornings and do the business part of writing in the afternoons. But my wife is a teacher with an extended break over the summer months, and every year as I prepare for her to be home and unencumbered, I give myself a pep talk about not allowing her freedom to interrupt my flow. But every year summer grabs a hold of my mind and spirit and tugs me away from writing.
Summer wins. On nice days in the spring and fall I can sit on my porch and write with a vengeance, but not in the summer. In summer, mid-June to late August, I watch the birds in our garden, look for the red-tailed hawk overhead, and hear my bicycle calling for me to leave the porch and play. In summer I can think of a hundred things I should do, want to do, can do and then I actually frolic through some of them.
If it sounds like I am complaining, I’m not. Just thinking about all the writing I haven’t done.