The Dog Days of Summer

When I was a kid, summer break seemed to last for much longer than two months. We would stretch out beside the water, luxuriating in the warm daylight, until the need to replenish arose. When our fingers wrinkled from hours in the cool water, we turned our attention to the endless supply of summer fruits: plums, nectarines, berries and melon. At night we stayed outside long after the fireflies abandoned the dusk.

Now that I am an adult, it seems like summer break lasts only the few moments it takes for the water to evaporate on my skin as I step out of the pool. Friends my own age reassure me that I am not alone in feeling this way, but their words offer little comfort. I yearn to trap the extra hour of summer sun and save it for a cold winter day that will soon arrive, unbidden and unnoticed.

I don’t get much writing accomplished in the summer. Without the school routines to govern my days, the hours pass like minutes and quiet time comes only in fits and spurts. Instead, I am thinking and feeling intensely, planning what I will write when the children are back at school. Sometimes I feel that these are the most productive days of my year.

Tonight begins the month of Av in the Jewish calendar, which means that the celebration of the new year, Rosh Hashanah, is just two months away. I imagine how many words I will write in these months–the Jewish dog days of summer–and my tears come unbidden and unnoticed. I offer a prayer for these fleeting days: “‘Teach us how short our time is; let us know it in the depths of our souls.’ And lead our hearts to wisdom.”

(Psalms 90:12 with Stephen Mitchell’s translation from A Book of Psalms: Selected & Adapted from the Hebrew)


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