Fleeting Days of Summer

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.
— John Steinbeck

I can’t believe we’ve come to the end of July, way past the Fourth, which seems in dreams and memory, during the bone chill of January and February, to be an awful tease. When six more inches of snow has fallen on the twelve still on the ground and you want to scream, beam me up Scotty and plop me down in July when the water is warm enough to swim in and the boats are out and you can hear laughter across the lake and see the twinkling candlelight of lanterns in the distance. Like panting dogs we wait in Michigan anxiously for the three (or if we’re lucky, four) months of weather nirvana. When the gods of summer get together and bless the residents of Michigan with days, not always in secession, of cloudless skies, a soft breeze, and the lush green of trees. Those particular days when you can’t believe how lucky you are to be alive.

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
–Mary Oliver