“Summer time and the living is easy,” says Gershwin. It is more mellow than autumn, more tender than spring and away from the inhospitable glare of spring.
Summer has officially arrived and been felt. It’s that season when time stands still — when nothing bad can happen, when mornings with the sun buttering the tree tops represents a chance to start over, to begin again and everything seems possible, as it began to beguine. Poets describe summer as one metaphor after another.
Summer is like a profusion of blossoms, a fiery weather of dreams, a fever of the mind, a blossom of conscience, a sweating of regret, a premonition of desire; the garden of the sprit that bestows an imagination’s respite in the knowledge that there was more in the world that one could understand. Name one masterpiece whose euphoria for July or August is equal to Wordsworth from his “Daffodils.”
Summer is a high, candid definite time.
Summer is the voyeur’s paradise, as the whole city is taking off its clothes just to torment the men — who just stare a lot, moronic with easy pleasure — at this all hang out, be just their true selves in sweet freedom, unburdened by cares; with only innocent responsibility.
It is the great trek, the movement of life from indoor to outdoor, whole streets turned inside out, as if at every window people were shaking out the contents of shoe boxes, suitcases and closets.
I’m hearing summer sounds again. I can hear the neighbors talking in their garden. Voices in the street day and night, admit you to intimacies through windows and thin walls. I can hear the sounds of the birds, the winds through the magnolias, and maple and elm trees as their leaves whispered. When it rained, the thunder seemed to enter the rooms. The sound of a car honking on Rexford Drive is inferior to that of a honking bird. It is after all, an arbitrary decision.
But the saddest sound of summer are those two hearts breaking. Summer romance as a phrase, is something akin to “Summer Soldier.” The romance carries away and the summer soldiers run away from duty away from the reality of things.
Sun-filled romance in summer is the dramatic background of much fiction. There’s the accident of the meeting and the unreasonable heightening of the season. Classically there is the imbalance of clan situation on hand, chilly truths swept away by the soft clouds, the fields, the petals in the breeze and the urgency of lotuses to burst open.
Edith Wharton wrote a short novel called “Summer” about a poor girl and a clever young man. He is alone idling about in the sunshine and she is there as she has always been. In the way of these romances, of course it is not to last, as the young man turns out to be engaged to someone of his sort.
In Tess of the “D’Ubervilles,” the summer landscape that engulfs Tess and Angeles Clare leads to a despair of such magnitude that only the genius of Thomas Hardy could imagine it in the changing seasons.
And in my favorite, Checkhov’s “The Lady with the Dog,” the lady and the man are both married, but they meet one summer, beginning a romance that flows along a pitiless tide. Without any possible ending except misery — when they believe the love will end at last, or the devastation will have a solution — the final line says, “No, it was only the beginning.”
So in spite of the meadows and the picnics under the shade of copper beech tree, the days will be staged again next summer with other lovers in other places. The freedom of the endless summers remain in the memory like the summer of childhood that one remembers as having lasted forever.
Summer is a high, candid, definite time. But beware of summer romance.