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    real summer


    There are times, usually in the depths of the long, dark, damp winter, when I truly regret that we can't can't hop a bus to a real museum. There are summer evenings when the ten o'clock light inspires me to sit on a patio and drink gimlets in a dress, or at least wedges, but everywhere closes at 9, or earlier, or never opens at all on Sundays. The air is heavy with sweat and pesticide here where we live, and the bargain quarter acre lot comes with a price I never envisioned myself paying: a dearth of "the arts." The children's museum resides in a mall next to Chuck E Cheese and the historic theater only shows movies on the weekends. If you look hard, you can find potters and screenprinters, painters and writers who love this place, who infuse their work with their love for this place. But, for the past eighteen months, searching has mostly been a luxury whose spot in line for my time is so far down the block and around the corner that it seems prudent to just leave and grab dinner instead. When the rain starts, when, vitamin D deficient and bored, I'm California dreamin' of my own sunny childhood, I lament our location. I do. It's bougie and stupid and futile, but I do.

    But July and August. Late summer, here, in 75 degrees, when the water sparkles and the trees stay green. I pocket a little July for later. For January, when I have to remind myself of Washington's virtues. My kids can't take the bus downtown to see a Cornell diorama and eat a slice, but they already know the supple willingness of a perfectly ripe blackberry on its cane. They pick peas while they play and chase the chickens that laid breakfast. 

    Where I'm from, the summers are endless, even though the locals will tell you otherwise. Seventy degrees is seventy degrees, except when it's ninety, and the beach is always open, will always be there tomorrow, and the next day, so there's no need to rush. Nobody or nothing ushers in the change of seasons. Halloween costumes don't have to include room for longjohns, the palm trees are always expectedly understated in their greenery, your yard probably doesn't need raking, and for a long time I saw these things as givens, then virtues. But now, I appreciate the northwest's vastly varying daylight, and the other tangible qualities that make our collective perpetual spinning obvious. These loose markers -- our apple trees' June drop; the pears turning gold; our giant black walnut's falling leaves; opening of our first summer preserves; the return of nearby steller's jays' raucous arguments -- keep me aware of the passage of time. Help me appreciate what each month has to offer. Help my children learn about their place in the world. 

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