Summer. Why can’t it be ever thus? Birds of every feather on the wing. Morning glories climbing on the trellis, bees and hummingbirds hovering over blossoms. In places like this, part-timers like me are ensconced in our getaway lives, sinking into our passions, painting or writing or sawing wood. Seeing.
In summer there is also work, but more time in a day for living when days are long and night comes slowly over a moonlit river.
Our grocery shopping is not limited to fluorescent-lit aisles of packaged produce from Chile or flash-frozen fish from Norway. We shop together at farmers’ markets where we banter with farmers while standing in line for fresh bread, sharing coffee with neighbors at a local cafe afterwards. It is a life that nurtures friendships.
On a morning like this, pre-4th of July, with no major new tragedy unfolding in the news and the latest shooting, of Congressmen, already weeks in the past, it is easy to believe in a peaceful society, celebrating freedom and justice.
One of our river towns, Callicoon, was recently named the “best small-town Main Street in America” by Country Living, a national magazine. In our own town of Narrowsburg, the number of businesses thriving on our Main Street has increased exponentially this summer. The liquor store owned by Ron and Joan Santo spawned a specialty shop next door selling everything from fresh mozzarella from Brooklyn to menswear from Italy. Joan’s brainchild, Narrowsburg Proper, saw a niche and filled it in no time. Alexandra Iavarone opened a second location of her Honesdale design shop, The Velvet Maple, next door to the Chi Hive, our local yoga studio. And we hear that a new restaurant will open soon, filling the void Gerard’s River Grill left. We even have a nightclub spot that hosts comedy and music acts while serving the most delicious sangria and light fare, The Emerald Ballroom, an offshoot of The Heron.
With summer comes time—or is it just that I make time?—to read deeply. I believe Narrowsburg now enjoys the only bookstore in Sullivan County (perhaps the world.) It is One Grand Books on our one-block-long Main Street. In between stretches of the very long biography of Robert Lowell, “Setting the River on Fire” by Kay Redfield Jamison, I’m reading Gloria Steinem’s fine memoir, “My Life on the Road” as well as a stack of poetry books that have been piling up all year. Reading one of them even inspired a poem of my own, only the second of this year. It’s about poetry that stays in your head so long you feel the poet owes you rent. Meant to be a fan letter, it morphed into a sonnet instead. Summer can do that.
A friend of mine, recently the victim of a home invasion by a large and hungry Mama bear with four cubs, might disagree with me, but summer sightings of wildlife can be thrilling. I’m thinking of one recent morning driving the local Scenic Byway, when a similarly large bear lumbered across the road 500 yards ahead, in time for me to slow down and enjoy its whole crossing. Earlier that same morning I had to stop my car to lift a migrating turtle from the middle of the road to the shoulder. From my kitchen window, when my timing is right, I can count on seeing immature eagles being fed and taught to fish by their elegant elders. I take these sightings as talismans of life in a world greater than Trumpland. Summer can make me believe almost anything is possible.