Sunday, August 28, 2011

Magical summer days

Crescent Beach
We’ve had a cool and rainy summer here on the east coast of Canada.  As a result, I haven’t spent nearly as much time outdoors as I usually do this time of year – aside from when I’m running, of course.  And it’s a shame because there’s something truly magical about warm summer days.

For example, last week was a little frantic because I was “acting” for my boss who was on vacation while preparing to go on two weeks’ vacation myself. One especially harried day, in dire need of sustenance, I slipped out to pick up a sandwich.  Emerging from the sandwich shop still distracted by thoughts of work, I was abruptly struck by the fact that the day, which had started out cool and foggy, had become an idyllic summer day – warm and sunny with just enough breeze to make it comfortable. Though intending to head straight back to the office, I allowed myself to be drawn to the square in front of City Hall by the sounds of a quartet playing a noontime concert and plopped myself down in a shady spot to eat. The quartet, a talented group of young jazz musicians, played a selection of its own autobiographically, often hilariously titled compositions. The concert was enjoyable enough, but the magical part was watching a group of three and four year old children dancing – their tiny bodies moving in effortless interpretation of music that was – to my ear at least – almost entirely without rhythm, their faces earnest as they turned occasionally to watch the players.

I had another such magical moment yesterday.  Tired from my tough week, I postponed a planned 32km long run and treated myself to an easy 10km run along two favourite beaches instead.  As I reached the far end of Crescent Beach, I noticed a group of people milling about. At first I thought it was a tour group or reunion of some kind, but as I drew closer, I realized it was wedding in progress. The bride and groom, dressed simply in white, stood barefoot at the water’s edge, friends and family around them to witness their vows. I loved the informality of it, and felt privileged to catch a glimpse of their special day as I ran slowly past.

Now, as I sit on the front porch of our country place writing this, I'm witnessing the arrival of tropical storm (formerly known as hurricane) Irene. So far, she’s treated us to brief episodes of heavy rain but the wind is picking up and the air feels warm and heavy as it often does during hurricane season. Irene won’t likely pack as big a punch here as she did in the Bahamas, North Caroline and New York but we’ve prepared for possible power outages just in case, and are keeping fingers crossed she doesn’t bring down another of the ancient pines behind out house. All around me, crickets are singing loudly (in alarm or celebration? I can’t tell) and leaves whisper on tree branches swaying overhead. I feel drawn inexorably into the present moment – past and future nearly irrelevant – as I experience another kind of late summer magic.

All of which reminds me of the importance of getting away from my computer and my smart phone from time to time so that I can focus on experiencing these last warm summer days.  Like now, for instance.

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