Time in summer is a fluid thing. As the temperature rises, humans and animals alike slow down, savoring spots of shade, while time itself seems to speed up, slipping by like an unwatched stream. Every schoolchild knows that summer days are shorter than winter ones, despite all those science lessons about planetary orbits and axis-tilts. Summer days are precious, so they slide by faster than the trudge of winter doldrums. One minute it’s spring and the snow is barely melted, then the next you’re rounding the corner toward August.
This morning I knew it had been a while–about a week, I thought–since I’d last blogged…but when I checked, I was astonished to see it’s been nearly two weeks since my last entry, which I’d hurriedly posted from a cafe in Columbus, Ohio while visiting family. This is how my summer has been: first I moved out of my apartment, then I tended the house while J was away on a business trip, then the two of us traveled to Pittsburgh and Columbus to see family, and then it was Independence Day. I moved out of my apartment in May…so what exactly happened to the month of June?
Sometime while I was going then coming, spring slipped into summer: a transition I missed. This week has been warm, so Reggie and I putter even more slowly than usual on our morning walks, seeking shady spots as we round the block. A new online term started last week, and the usual tasks of getting two summer classes up and running have spread and attenuated, taking as much time as I give them. I’ve been working this week as slowly as Reggie and I have been walking, and when I’m not doing either, I’m doing lots of nothing: reading and resting and wiling my time with mundane chores and errands.
At the end of a day like today, what have I accomplished? I’ve crossed off a handful of online teaching tasks; I’ve done laundry. I’ve read and written in my journal; I’ve taken in the trash cans and done the dishes. In cosmic terms, this isn’t much; in homely terms, this is everything. Summer days are fluid because they give me the luxury of doing one thing at a time and taking my time while I do it. During the school year, there’s no time for puttering; during the school year, every minute is scheduled and accounted for. In summertime, seconds slip into minutes, minutes slide into hours, and hours drift into days. It’s a temporal relativity any schoolchild can vouch for, but one which science has yet to explain.