Sunday, Mar. 02, 2003, 11:50 PM

A longing for summer

Summer is only a memory. The wind beats against my window trying to gain entry. The temperature outside approaches zero and the faint snow that has fallen blows across the road in rippling patterns that dance in the headlights of passing cars. The world is frozen and even the mud does not yield to the weight of a passing foot, bored stiff with this incessant cold. If I think back long enough, reach back far enough into the recesses of memory I can recall the sound of the surf. I can feel the wind across my moist body. I can hear the laughter and squeals of children. I can smell the salt of the ocean. I can feel the kiss of the sun on my shoulders.

In the summer there is driving and running and playing and action. In the winter there is sitting and watching and longing. I remember the evenings when the shadows are long and the daylight is waning and the lightning bugs glint in the darkness of the trees. I can smell the dogwoods and tulips and daffodils and lilacs of spring. I can see the cacophony of greens as the leaves emerge virginal and fresh. I can feel the pulse of life waking from a long nap and flowing vigorously. In the summer life is everywhere. In the winter you only see the traces of life and indirection. You see footprints and animal tracks. You see a snowman or sled trail. You see the curl of smoke from a chimney and the warm glow of light spilling from a window and it seems as though the life has condensed on the very window itself obscuring your view inside. You see a shoveled walks and bare spots where cars have been parked and snow has not yet blanketed. Always remnants and artifacts of life like the bare skeleton of a tree silhouetted against the slate grey sky. No chatter of birds to stir your dreaming thoughts into waking. Even the river has grown a thick skin of ice that keeps it immobile and lifeless in the strongest winds.

Driving is one of my favorite things to do when winter does not have a firm grip on the land. In the spring when the life pushes from the ground and the air is sweet with the scent of it. In the summer with the windows down and the light through the trees creates a strobe effect on the windshield. In the fall when the hills are aflame with color and the birds fly in great dark clouds toward warmer climates. I enjoy picking a direction at random and driving until an inviting road tempts me discover its secrets. The world rolls past my windows as the ground rolls beneath my tires. It is my antidote for a life too hectic and full of responsibility. It helps to indulge my sense of adventure and allows the spontaneity of random actions. I can go anywhere and stop whenever and forever seek the things over the next hill while pursuing the horizon. It is freedom in the purest form. It is my drug and I need a fix.