A summer of life before the cold

Monday, September 1, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:36 a.m. CDT, Sunday, June 29, 2008

Whew. I’m pleasantly surprised and relieved to report that I made it through August with all my friends and acquaintances still speaking to me in spite of the fact that I’m a summer person. The procession of days when the temperatures soared past the 100-degree mark was hard for many people to endure. Maybe there is some truth to the philosophy that suggests that much travail makes us stronger. With a violent thunderstorm with damaging winds, electrical blackouts (we had one a few days ahead of the one in the Northeast), steadily rising gas prices and daily broadcasts of bad news from the Middle East, we seem to be trudging along our way with a minimum of temper tantrums.

I try to make good use of the hot, humid afternoons by attending to quiet, little tasks like answering letters and sewing on buttons. I have to admit I do better with the buttons than with the letters. In the days when snail mail was all there was, I had an elderly neighbor who devoted one afternoon a week to responding to her correspondence. Today, I still have trouble devoting one hour a week to e-mail. I’m so far behind that I find the subject too embarrassing to talk about. It’s the whole “busman’s holiday” kind of thing. When writing is your job, doing it for pleasure is one of those things you tend to put off as long as you can. Catching up with my letter writing will probably wind up on my list of things to do on cold, winter nights.

That’s another thing hot summer days are good for — making plans for the winter. I already have two big things on my winter list. For several years, I have been wanting to put together some readings on tape for my friends who are no longer able to read, and I’m giving that a high priority on my winter list. I also hope to complete my book of personal memories, which my friends refer to as my memoirs. Frankly, that’s a little too fancy for me. This is a project I began many years ago when I was attempting to formulate my theology. The amount of material I have gathered in the meantime is making it extremely difficult for me to move around in my office.

Of course, before I can start on the fun things, there are all those work projects waiting. Many folks are having trouble with the foundations beneath their homes due to the ground shifting because of the drought. Tackling the yard work alone will be an enormous task. The hot dry weather has wreaked havoc all across the landscape. I hope the bad weather will not affect the fall festivals since those are some of the wonderful things many of us are looking to give us a boost after the devastating heat.

In any case, I’m willing to admit it hasn’t been one of my favorite summers. For one thing, gardening has not been a pleasant experience, and fishing has been in the pits. Still, as far as I’m concerned, the worst summer beats the best winter, hands down. It will probably go down in my history book as the season of tomatoes and ants.

Heading the list of big events of the past summer, at least for me, has been that so many of my optimistic friends seem have given up on the idea of getting the world straightened out. At the beginning of the summer, they were full of high hopes that the war on terrorism was nearly won and it was just a matter of time before peace in the Middle East would be a reality. They were also certain that the state’s budget woes would be short-lived as prosperity was just around the corner. Most of them really believed they had the recipe for curing all the things that ailed us and with a little time, they would make believers of us all. These folks are finally accepting that things really are just as bad as they look.

At some point, we as Americans are going to have to look at the work that needs to be done in our own house. Somewhere there is a prevailing belief that as long as we clothe our bad behavior with the “God” word, everything will work out fine. Post the Ten Commandments on corporate walls, and members of the corporation can steal with immunity. Recite a prayer before giving somebody a lethal injection, and it

doesn’t matter whether they are guilty or innocent. It is sad and pitiful that some folks have been led to believe that words, not actions, comprise right behavior.

Anyway, I’m also pleased to report that Geronimo, the cat, survived the hot weather with aplomb. Now in his 11th year, he is content with his stations in life: underfoot, on top of the newspaper, spread out across the doorway or wherever he can create the most inconvenience to people.

I probably wouldn’t mind saying goodbye to summer if it didn’t mean saying hello to winter. Ah, there’s the rub.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen

by calling at 882-5734 or e-mailing her


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