tempus fugit

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I live in Maine, where no matter the season, people complain about the weather. In winter, it’s always too cold and the price of heating oil is too high. In spring, there’s too much rain and too much mud. In summer, it’s too hot and will never be bikini season. To my mind, complaining about the weather is like arguing balls and strikes. In all my years watching baseball, no umpire has ever reversed his call because an irate manager stormed from the dugout, threw his hat on the ground, and kicked dirt. In much the same way, our celestial umpire won’t change his or her mind once the course of the seasons are set, no matter how much bellyaching we do. The weather is what it is. This complaining reminds me of a joke they tell up here: “Do you think it will ever stop raining?” a tourist asks. “Always has,” the Mainer replies. I grew up in Syracuse and lived in Rochester and Buffalo for many years. Live in Buffalo for a few winters and believe me: you’ll be cured of bitching about the weather anywhere else.

Tomorrow is June 1st, and no matter what the calendar says, in my world it’s the first day of summer. On my personal Maine Mayan calendar, summer lasts exactly ninety days, from June 1st to August 31st. Ninety days, or to put it even more bluntly, twelve weekends. That’s what we got, friends  We decided to live in Maine and not Miami Beach and that’s what we got. So take advantage of every single solitary ray of sunshine or drop of rain. If you’re cold, shiver like there’s no tomorrow. If you’re wet, be as wet as the bottom of the sea. If you’re hot, feel the sweat pouring off your body and know that you are alive. We’ve got the ocean for cooling breezes and bodysurfing. We’ve got lakes and ponds for swimming. We’ve got forests to go hiking in, mountains to climb. Savor your ninety days, your twelve weekends, in all their hot, sweaty, rainy, muggy, foggy glory.

During a semester break in college, I was driving home with a friend down Route 17 in New York State. Right around Roscoe, NY, we stopped by the side of the road to visit an old cemetery. I don’t know why we did it. I remember looking at all the old gravestones of the people who had been born and died, as far back as the 1800’s. Some of the names and dates you couldn’t even read anymore, such were the effects of time. But one image from one of the markers has always stayed with me; that of an hourglass with wings. Maybe this was a popular image around the time these folks were buried. I don’t know. But since that visit to that graveyard in Roscoe almost thirty years ago, I’ve been in more cemeteries than I care to count, and I’ve never seen the symbol of the winged hourglass again. A Zen master once said to go to sleep at night like it’s your final rest, and to get up in the morning as if your bed is on fire. That is; do everything fully, giving your all, all the time. There is only this present moment, no other. If not now, when? If not the beach today, then when? You’ve got ninety days, my friends. Twelve weekends. Stop arguing balls and strikes and play the game.

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