Sunday, August 2, 2009

Feasts of Summer

Ah, summer. The earth blossoms into its full ripeness, and lazes in the sun. The sound of bees buzzing and a myriad of birds twittering in the trees is the soundtrack, underscored by the sonorous buzz of a distant lawnmower.
The smell of the flowers fills the air, and the scent of fresh-cut grass wafts over the fence. Evenings bring the rich aroma of burning wood, as backyard fireplaces are lit and families prepare for some time around a campfire - a tradition as ancient as humanity. No wonder the smell of woodsmoke is so evocative. Even a whiff can bring back happy childhood memories of campfires gone by, with the shadows of my brothers and sisters as children, now all grown men and women with children and grandchildren of their own, gathered around the fire with me.

I love to cook over a real fire. The smell of the meat sizzling, dripping juices into the coals, the scent of corn wrapped in its leaves and baking on the edge of the firepit, a veggie pack steaming on the other side, all are a calming influence on my heart and mind. No rush and hurry and zap in the microwave. Cooking over a fire requires time, and patience, and the careful management of the coals to keep a constant temperature, in order to bring forth not just a meal, but a work of art, an act of creation as much as any painting or symphony.
I stare into the fire, watching the play of the waves of light and dark on the coal bed. To me, it looks like the the sheets of colour that undulate across the sky in the summer Aurora Borealis displays. Sky and earth, speaking to each other, perhaps taking pleasure in the beauty they see across the gulf of air between.
The summer dawn is so beautiful, each one a unique and original work of art spread across a canvas as large as the sky. The wisps of cloud and infinite shades of blue are contrasted against the silhouettes of the trees in full leaf, the cool dawn breeze making the foliage whisper of a perfect summer day ahead. The flowers, closed up like furled umbrellas through the night, now open to drink in the touch of golden sun and the morning dew. The colours wake up too as the light grows stronger, the brilliant yellows and oranges and pinks a reflection of the glory of the rising sun. The birds twitter in appreciation of the magnificent display, and joyfully sing the praises of the day. Each morning is a gift, every dawn is a fresh promise of new possibilities. It is up to us to make of it what we will.

Not every morning will be bright and beautiful, not every day will be happy. But every morning has potential to be so, and can be eagerly embraced. Carpe diem! Sieze the day! It is only by experiencing the cloudy days, the days of storm and wind and drenching rain, that we can fully appreciate the warm sunny days, the beautiful days, the perfect days. The rain is as necessary as the sun to the earth, and to us, and one cannot exist without the other.

This is the secret of life - balance. All parts of existence has its counterpart, and both halves of the whole must be recognized and acknowledged to find our place in the universe, to find that perfect point of balance where there is no conflict, no pushing and pulling and struggling for dominance or attention. By finding our perfect centre, and safeguarding it within ourselves, we can find peace of mind and soul.
So take the time, pause in your regular routine, and reflect on the beauty that is summer. Consider the fire and the sky, perfectly complementing each other, so different and yet somehow having the same quality of inspiring peaceful introspection within the human soul. Each day is a gift, so enjoy it. Stop to smell the flowers.

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