Lucky. Blessed. Fortunate. Grateful. Awed. Exalted.
This is how I feel when it comes to living in the Pacific Northwest in the summertime. The air warm but not too warm. A view of Mt. Rainer on a clear early morning with the sun illuminating it’s distinctive folds and vertical lines. Beach walking for miles on a low tide day. Sparkling and giggling salt waters of Puget Sound. Light that lingers until after 10pm. Forests of shady trails graced with ribbons of translucent light. Freshest air! Farmers Markets filled with juicy and colorful berries, cucumbers that taste like cucumbers, sweat peas, dahlias, and the sounds of birds, children playing and a duo strumming on guitars and singing an old country ballad. What’s there not to love?
The word August has many inspiring definitions I’ve come to find out. One of them being to ripen or to come into realization and maturity. This is exactly what is happening all around us right now in the PNW-a tremendous and marvelous ripening that feels worthy of celebration and revelry. Back in the day I lived in the great city of Austin, TX and I wouldn’t call August a time of ripening but rather of escaping or melting. The sweltering heat of over 100 degrees was assaulting and worthy of a cold beer inside a cavernous cement walled bar called Stubbs. It would take the edge off as you dreamed of the ripe time to come in late October. There was a great storyteller and journalist named Charles Kuralt who travelled all over America looking for the perfect town to live in at certain peak seasons. I’m not sure if he ever got this far west to experience the beauty and near perfection of a summer day in the PNW but if he had he would end his “On the Road” story with “there is no place like Bainbridge Island on a summer day in August.” Tis so true.
There are seasons and places that suggest a ripening and a full potential of endeavor that is revealed, embraced and celebrated. I’m sure you have told your friends and family members from afar that the right time to come to Bainbridge is in August. It’s the ripe time. It’s when we feel proud and lucky to call ourselves native Northwesterners. We are at our best in August.
And when I say we are at our best I mean our outer environment. Yet, I wonder about our own human environments and if whether or not we are in mind, body and spirit invited at this time to check in and ask ourselves -What is ripe? What is coming into maturity and full realization? And, if so, what does that mean for each one of us?
So, I asked around. I asked my parents first because they are usually open to my weird antics. I asked “What is ripening in you right now?” My dad looked puzzled and guffawed a bit and said, “I’m not ripening right now…I’m past that part…now I’m starting to rot,”
He thought about it and said…”well, I guess it’s my painting. I feel like I’m entering into some maturity and confidence with it all.” This was funny and maybe even true when you look at a long life’s trajectory. He is not thinking that 76 is a ripe age. Or?? maybe there is another way to look at this. I felt determined and pushed him on this-“Dad, I asked with earnestness, What is coming into full potential for you right now…and I know it’s not the big head of hair on your head.”
I reflected on my own ripening this summer and what seed I planted back in the early Spring that lay so dormant in me – the seed of rest, restoration and reading books. Now that we are in August I have to say that this summer I’ve slowed down a little bit, simplified and cleared the days of plans and commitments.
I have given myself and my kids space to sleep in, hang out, and allow these days to unfold. I have read books and poems. And just last week I hurt my back by lifting up a big, heavy box of Pellegrino from Costco. I’ve never had a back spasm in my life. This landed me on my back and into the arms of healers and massage therapists.
I guess I’m ripening my patience and realizing the slow but potent power of meditation and breathing to heal myself. As Kuralt would say, “there’s no better place to heal your back from a Costco injury than the serene, park like setting of your parent’s backyard on a summer day on South Whidbey Island.”
Long, quiet, soft and twinkly August days await me. I’m ready in a steady, calm (“gentle is the new advanced yoga” kind of way) so that I can truly savor the juiciness and robustness that I’m so fortunate to experience right now.
And you? What is ripening in you?