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Summer in Upstate New York

Summer comes quietly to New York, then explodes and spreads like wildfire. We burst barefoot from our homes when the mercury hits 60 degrees. The clocks were set ahead months before by a solitary hour, and yet, as if by magic, the days expand, light flickering on the horizon well into the evening. Sunsets boast oversaturated, nearly impossible, hues.The usual day and night distinctions are handed over to invisible but boisterous insects—the crescendo swell of the locust drone to rule the hot days, and the melodic cricket chirp to rule the balmy nights.

Finally warmed above freezing by an unrelenting sun, fresh water lakes become our relief and our refuge. Waterskiers find serenity on the pre-dawn water when the lake is transformed from liquid to glass. This time is fleeting, but with every arc and line cut across the surface, a greater peace between ourselves and nature is discovered.

The water teaches respect even in its quiet stillness gently holding your body afloat only after you tip your head back, spread your arms wide, and trust. While the sun bakes on us, making the horizon and our brains hazy, the water waits to jolt us back into the moment. And we must savor every moment, even those with mosquitos, because summer cannot be trapped. We may wish for a relief from the humidity, but we will romanticize it during blizzards and whiteouts.

Summer smells like fresh cut grass and gasoline, crackling campfires and bug spray, sweat and sunblock. It smells like still-orange tomatoes and the dirt underneath them. Summer smells like wet dogs, exhausted from a day at the lake. It smells like smoky grills and pasta salads, cold beer and raspberry pie.

A primitive and beautiful oneness between ourselves and nature develops the more we allow ourselves outdoors. Our senses adjust to even the smallest details about the world around us, and we cannot help but be inspired. As summer begins to fade, it is our challenge and our privilege to walk outside and allow nature to get into our systems.

Summer memories will sustain us through the next three seasons, until it comes again. As we say farewell to summer, we cannot mourn too long, because when summer leaves, it leaves behind autumn.

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