Editor’s Notebook: Spring into invincible summer
The return to more seasonable temperatures on Tuesday is welcomed by a freshly planted hydrangea. (Dana Wormald | New Hampshire Bulletin)
I was asleep when the summer of 2021 began.
The solstice arrived at 11:32 p.m. on Sunday night, and 12 hours later that most impetuous of seasons, drunk on anthropogenic climate change and global pestilence, celebrated its scheduled coup by slow-roasting New Hampshire at 93 degrees. The more moderate forces that typically oversee seasonal transitions briefly restored order on Tuesday morning – 72 degrees and a promise of afternoon rain – but Granite Staters know a mirage when they see one.
Spring has reached the end of its long, lovely fade. The calendar says so and is seconded by humidity.
Human beings, poets that we are, have long tied the change of seasons to the cycle of life. We assign spring the attributes of a child, full of wonder and presence. Summertime, urgent and carefree, unfolds in waves of endless possibility and crafted illusions. In fall, the most bittersweet of seasons, the dreams forged in the vigorous heat of July and August grow brighter still, only to drop away gently, one by one, or all together in the fury of an October storm. Too quickly on autumn’s heels comes winter, that inevitable season of stark beauty and cold contemplation. A soft curtain of white delivers fated stillness, a tragedy undiminished by time but muted slightly by the first warm breeze of approaching spring.
The world begins, again and for the first time.
This year, spring-into-summer carries with it the pent-up energy and emotion of four-plus seasons lost to COVID-19. Maskless and unbridled, the vaccinated throngs are ready to break out – provided they manage to break free of their practiced introversion to mix once again with people outside of their bubble. They take these baby steps with nervous, wary joy that promises to explode into something like revelry by Independence Day.
It is summer in New Hampshire, in season and spirit.
In one of his most well-known lyrical essays, “Return to Tipasa,” Albert Camus writes: “In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” Many of you have no doubt come across this quote on social media, stitched on a sofa pillow, or perhaps inked into the skin of a somber romantic, but in the wake of our shared trauma of the past year it is not only a sweet sentiment but a call to action. A big part of our collective work this summer is to rediscover the pieces of ourselves forced into dormancy during our dark year. To be clear, the pandemic is not over, but any light is worthy of celebration.
Sooner than seems possible, fall will arrive by stealth and hold the door open for trailing winter. When the air cools, and it will, we will enter into the next phase of whatever this new era is. So find your invincible summer now, in the midst of the season, and hold on to it. And it’s not too late to look for a little invincible spring while you’re at it.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that there are no promises within the cycle. All we have is the moment and the wonder on which it’s built.
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