Somewhere on my shelf, unread although started, is John Steinbeck’s The Winter of Our Discontent. I am, of course, not throwing myself anywhere near the writing realm of Steinbeck, but I will unabashedly borrow and alter his title. The summer of 2021 was seemingly my season of discontent. Although it is not over yet in actuality, for all intents and purposes it is for me. School beckons later this week and I will spend the last days of this summer in my classroom. What was it about this summer that was so “off” as to earn itself the moniker of discontentment? I never could seem to get any traction. I never got into a delightful summer routine. In other summers, although not the pandemic version of 2020, I liked to say I reveled in the three Ws: work, working on my tan, and working out. This summer, on the days I could go to the beach, the weather was not cooperative. I did get into a sort of workout routine but it was not a daily one due to family obligations. I did get a little furniture restoration accomplished but not nearly what I anticipated. The oppressive heat and humidity kept me from heading to my patio to sand and paint. There were moments of contentment and, like my mother before me, I tried to acknowledge those moments and savor them, but there were not as many moments of exhaling and just being delighted it was summer and I was enjoying it.
My one solace was reading. I began reading in earnest the day after school ended when I was in the airport then on a plane to St. Louis to see my youngest. I began with Speak, which was for summer school, then went to the other three books I had brought for the trip, two “beach reads” and The Bluest Eye. Each day, while Bridget was working, I would lie on the couch and read. At the offset, I thought it a hasty move scheduling the trip the day after school ended, but that turned out to be the perfect window. In fact, I ran out of books and was saved by a Little Free Library around the corner from Bridget’s apartment. While I was spinning my wheels in other aspects of my life, reading was my constant. If anything provided even a scintilla of calm and joy, it was the books that I read this summer. I believe I am about to finish my ninth book since summer began for me. It is, perhaps, the hours I could spend reading, that I will miss the most.
In years past, I would be wistful, even mournful, about the end of summer. I will probably look back and wish I had made more of the summer months. For now, however, the end of summer is an accepted fact. Time to move on. I always hope to have more summers with sunny days and crashing waves, cool drinks, and camaraderie. Perhaps I will yearn for summer when the cold of November chills me to the bone, but the summer I will call back is another one, a blissful one, a more fulfilling one.