What We Crave

New England summer can teach you a thing or two about wanting.

The season starts in June like an uncertain kid at the beach, dipping her toe into spring for an afternoon, immediately retracting when she discovers it’s too cold for her to get in.

At some point, towards the end of June, summer realizes that the only way to get in is to go all in, and fast. So she does. And she belts herself out and over the greening hillsides of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts. The sun roars, strawberries then blueberries get fat and full, supermarket end caps are devoted to sunblock, parking is impossible.

Summer hears when talk turns to life after Labor Day weekend. So she pulls out these unbelievable days, like a soprano singing the opera’s last aria. And then she bows, the leaves begin to change, and her work is done.

She is craved, pined for, lusted after; out of sight, very much in mind. She is so brief, so beautiful, we think, while the January ice turns brown and dangerous. If only she could be a month longer, the snow shoveler fantasizes as she digs her car out of a March avalanche.

But summer won’t be ordered like a take-out meal or available for next-day delivery; she comes and she goes on her own loosely predictable time.

The task, then, is to swim, pick peaches, lie in hammocks and on beaches, wear flip-flops so much we stop hearing their thwack-thwack. The task is to get out into summer and love her recklessly while we have her.

Then, learn to love her cousins fall, spring, and especially winter, the one with nearly nobody to play with on the playground. Do the things in those seasons that can only be done in them. Eat a McIntosh right off the tree, snowshoe out to the best stargazing spot, have a party for the first crocuses.

And in so loving, we teach ourselves to crave not what we don’t have, but what we do have.

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