“Summertime, oh summertime, pattern of life indelible . . .” That quote is from E.B. White’s essay “Once more to the Lake.” The author tells about a cherished childhood memory of going to a lake in Maine summer after summer and how going back as an adult was both wonderful and dreadful. Some things had stayed the same and others had undergone unwelcome changes as time moved on.
It’s interesting how we want to return again and again to these youthful memories. Maybe it’s a desire to hold onto a time when the world made sense and everything was as it should be. Some people make light of childhood memories or believe they were almost fairy tales—try to explain them away. However, I just wonder, if it’s our adult perspective that is off kilter—clouded, jaded. Maybe we can see more clearly through the eyes of a child. Maybe that perspective of wonder, joy, and rightness is what we should hold close. Maybe then we would experience more bubbles of joy and bursts of laughter. Maybe then we could dance freely in the rain, just because. Maybe then we would live with more peace and less chaos. Just maybe.
This story reminds me of all my own sweet summertime memories. Our family spent many fun afternoons or evenings at the lakes in North Clark County (being farmers—it had to be before or after chores). I have so many recollections of picnics and swimming at the lakes, meeting friends there, lying in the sun, watching the sun sparkling on the water, listening to the wind in the trees, and smelling the campfires. Those were good times, times worth revisiting.
Toward the end of summer, I usually feel a pull to return to the lake. I usually go by myself and let the peace of the lake sink into my soul while I enjoy the last of the summer sun. Until I read this story, it didn’t really click why I went. Now I know. The child in me wants to return to a time when the world seemed right, when things made sense. But, maybe I also need to grieve the passing of another summer, maybe it’s to acknowledge that someday everything we know will end, or maybe I go to dream of an eternal summer that waits. Whatever the reasons, I know I need to go to the lake just one more time. . . Summertime, oh summertime.