As a child, summer seemed like an eternity. In a good way. Back in those days I used to think I was away at camp for half the summer. Today I’m still shocked to realize that it was only for two weeks. Winter also went by slowly, though not in a good way, of course, as did the entire school year for that matter. But in summer, even when the back-to-school ads started, I knew I could look forward to more than a full month ahead, and that seemed like such a wonderfully long, long time at that age.
Why the lapse of time feels differently than when we were children seems to have everything to do with routine. As adults, we tend to be locked into a daily routine that does not vary, or varies very, very little. As a result, time seems to stand still, which is why, to my mind, it is so amazing when you realize that a month, or an entire season has gone by. As children, our days were more varied, especially in summer. For whatever reason, if your days’ activities are varied, time seems to slow down.
I also think that our relationship to the experience of time directly relates to the number of years we’ve been on the planet. I always get a kick listening/reading interviews with a teen idol or twenty-something celebrity when they say something like, “…I mean, that was way back, years and years ago when I was (only 18 years old/in elementary school, etc., etc.).” Doing the math, you figure they are referring, at the most, to ten years ago, but probably more like only five or six. Ten years is a good long while, to be sure, but the way we saw it at that age, it was as much as half our lifetimes, if not more.
These days when referring to a decade ago I tend to use the words, “a couple of,” or “several years ago.” When I was 18, a movie that came out ten years before would have, to my mind at the time, been a really old film headed for the “classics” shelf. These days I consider it a “fairly recent release.” I drove a 10-yr-old car when I was 18 and I thought that was old classic car at the time. My current car will be 10 next year and I can hardly believe it. I still consider it my “new car.”
This summer has felt like a good, long summer. I started a new job at the beginning of it, so you’d think I missed out enjoying it, but the truth is I have had ample opportunity to get out and do the kind of things you only ever do in summer. And I was pretty active, so time, as I said earlier, seemed to slow down.
And, summer can still feel like a long time if the weather has been summer-like, as this year as has been. Where I live in the world, the weather can often be un-summer like, making it feel as though summer ends before it ever really begins (regional joke: “How do you know it’s summer? The rain’s warmer.” Another joke: “Living here is like being in love with an amazingly beautiful woman who always has a bad cold.”)
It’s this transition of time from summer to fall that I like the most. Even though the “season” has been extended by the travel and tourist industry to include all of September, and in some cases even the first part of October, I like that it is a bit quieter and less frantic, now that everyone is back in school and back to work. The crowds have thinned out, but the weather is still lovely, so time at a beach or a park, or dining al-fresco is a great thing to do. The nights begin to cool off, so a full nights’ rest returns. I can get back to wearing clothes I feel more comfortable in than my summer wardrobe. And, as the days and nights cool, I start to yearn for cozy fires and comfort food. All of my comfort foods are too rich and heavy for hot summer days and nights, so by the end of summer I am missing them. But most importantly, I love autumn colors, to the point that I do not ever feel low as summer starts to fade away. The vibrant glory of autumn color always takes my breath away. So, welcome fall! My favorite time of year.