Summertime, and the reading is easy

But the writing? Not so much.

I’m not complaining. Summer for me has always been a time to regroup, to stare into the horizon and dream nonsense dreams, to lie in the hammock reading whatever book you want. With no big trips planned and the heat overtaking my mental faculties, this summer has turned into one giant reading festival chez moi.

Sisters + Hammock
Sisters in the Hammock

As a child we went to the little cold-water cabin we rented on the Chesapeake Bay every summer. After we cleaned out the mice and poured lime down the outhouse we did as little as possible: swimming every day, fierce badminton, swinging in the hammock, endless games of crazy eights and solitaire, and reading after lunch. I was not, I hesitate to confess, one for lying around in the heat of the day, book or no book. I preferred tearing through the woods, searching for the feral cats, running down the cliffside steps to the dock and jumping in the water. When my father came on weekends he took us sailing in his little turquoise boat. Or in the cute but tipsy yellow bathtub boat he made us, with the polka dot sail. Or the red canoe. Anything to be out on the water where it was cool and lovely.

When we moved to the midwest all that came to a screeching halt. No more boats, no more cabins, no more easy-breezy summers. But we were getting older. Mother signed us up for the library’s summer reading program. I discovered Daphne du Maurier and fell in love. It took awhile for me to curb my wayward summer ways, running wild in the neighborhood, teaching swimming lessons so I could swim for free, cruising the city with my friends late at night. I had summer jobs but nothing that really interfered with my summer goals: having fun until school started again.

Now my idea of decadence in the summer is reading all afternoon by the pool. A dip to cool off then more reading, a cold drink, more reading, a nap, more reading. What do I read? Anything I want. Which is the real freedom of summer and adulthood.

I’ll have time to write when the weather turns cold and the leaves change. I’ll want to write when the chill stirs my imagination. But for now there’s only this one afternoon, this book, and a stretch of time.

☀ ☀ ☀


Lise McClendon just re-read ‘Chocolat’ by Joanne Harris because she could. Now she’s moved on to the second ‘Chocolat’ sequel, ‘Peaches for Monsieur le Curé.’ Sooner or later she’ll rouse herself from summer to write more fiction. Her latest novel is ‘The Girl with the Empty Dress.’