Living in the Season: Summer

Here in Damariscotta Mills the Summer is full on. Flowers are blooming profusely and veggies are exploding out of what once were neat rows. Life is abundant, and a bit over the top! This is the season when I walk to the swimming hole to get refreshed and to hang out with neighbors and new found friends. What I find there is an ease and informality that’s satisfying and fun. The free flowing and relaxed communal atmosphere of the swimming hole is, in fact, a great example of what Summer is all about.

This is my second letter to the Lincoln County News encouraging observation of the seasons. Using the lessons and practice of Five 

Element Acupuncture, I am following what is a seamless flow of change throughout the year, and I am hoping you will follow along with me. By drawing attention to how every season has an energetic texture that presents opportunities and tasks, we may be reminded how we can live in harmony with this, our very own Summer, unfolding right here, right now.

Summer is the time of maximum expansion and fullness. We see it in the garden, and we feel it under the luxuriant shade of trees. There is energy and there is appetite. The days are long, and we have capacity, and we want to embrace it all.

I decided to wait until August to write this letter because the promise of Summer and the way we actually end up navigating through Summer, are often at variance with one another.

Summer has us opening our doors and entertaining what makes us happy. Joy is ephemeral and radiant. It excites us, and encourages laughter. We may even gather some of the magic and hold it close into the depths of Winter. But as we play, as we visit, and as we throw ourselves into the bright pageant of Summer, we often overextend ourselves, and there is exhaustion. 

An interesting question might be, is this really the problem of Summer, or have we just come to live the whole year as though it were Summer? If we run just as hard in February with no allowance for Winter’s requirement to rest and rejuvenate, we may simply not have the reserves to successfully get through August. Summer madness counts on the rest of the year for preparation.

Many forgo Summer in order to work as much as possible when there is economic opportunity in Maine. We can leverage the energy of summer to help support our demanding work requirements, however. If we can still find some time to hang out and experience the fullness of the season and feel included by it, we can manage, as there is a lot of energy to spare, in principle. But there needs to be a season to replenish the reservoir. Going non-stop all year long in not a realistic picture, if health is a consideration.

And there are those who find the wonderful prospect of hanging out with friends and family overtaken by the reality of hosting too many guests, and being worn out facilitating another’s summer experience, while feeling conflicted as host and caregiver, rather than being a fellow adventurer. The Nurture Model is worthy of esteem, but it’s not actually the invitation of Summer. That’s the core energy of another season, and we will talk about it in the next letter. 

We need to align with every season in some meaningful way, so that the opportunities and tasks of that season are met. We cannot, and our bodies will not simply absent themselves. Energetically, we’re now in Summer, like it or not. It’s not discretionary, regardless of whether the intellect is paying attention.

Nature is the perfect companion and antidote for both the delights and challenges of Summer. To be out in it, to be awed by the proliferation of life, the fullness of green, the ocean’s expanse, is to be held by it’s quiet authority. The natural world perfectly moderates and integrates the lessons of Summer, including us as a part of it.

Increased social interaction just goes along with Summer. While this is good, it can be relentless. Finding balance in this time of excess is essential. For example, instead being a skipping stone, just sit down and let the party come to you. Meet and really talk with one person. Surrender to the spacious feeling of having an authentic connection. Get nourished, rather than feeling swept along and dissipated by the busyness of an event.

Summer makes us have to face how our ‘wanting’ is almost unquenchable. If we watch the trees, their poise and patience are evident and instructive, even as they give themselves away. We too, deserve to feel rooted, which gives rise to generosity. We all belong! That is really Summers’ deep refrain! Live and let live. It’s not sentimental, and it’s not always safe, as all things relational come without guarantees. 

In this the most expansive time of the year, many feel a bit too exposed. There’s a quiet voice wishing for a little less wildness, please. A little more containment, please. For some, its like staying too long at the fair, and they will not regret that Summer is brief. Longing for its return in the middle of Winter is another matter, of course.

So to finish up, eat fresh while you can! Meet your farmer and your baker. Lighter fare is well suited for summer. The water beckons. The trail invites, but so does a book, or a nap. Enjoy!