Here are a couple facts:
1. This is my last brand-new month in the Uncanny City. I moved here last July, so this month, June, is the final month that I have not yet spent in Pittsburgh.
2. I remember 1992 as The Year Summer Vacation Went On All Year. I finished my time in the Overseas Volunteer Youth Ministry program that spring, and I spent a leisurely, happy time with my parents, relatives, and friends in the States, and I went back to Niigata in the fall, where I spent October and November studying like a maniac for the Japanese Language National Proficiency Test, Level 2, which I took and passed in December. Then I found a job with the Apple College of Language and Tourism, which marked a new chapter in my career. Yes, 1992 was a wonderful year.
THIS year, 2012 — twenty years later — is The First Year When Summer Vacation Never Came. I have come to this grim plain of life: the wretched waste traversed by most of the adult world. There is now no C.S. Lewis proclamation of the term’s being ended, the holidays’ having begun. There is no joy in Mudville. All my life to this point (except for the halcyon times from ages 0-4, when school itself was only an evil cloud beyond the horizon), I’ve lived with the school year. But now I have to watch my teacher friends throw down their gradebooks and race out the door, giggling madly. June is here, but it means only beautiful woods and tantalizingly rising temperatures. I see this unnatural schedule the work world lives by, and I do not like it. Not one little bit. It is an abomination, designed by those who have no sensitivity to the rhythms of the year. Be nice to me this summer. I’m eating very bitter fruit. I’m thinking very angry thoughts toward Adam and Eve for bringing this upon us.
Anyway, some pictures (taken today), and some stats:
I discovered this ruined tower, whatever it once was, while taking a new road in my neighborhood the other day. I knew I had to come back and take pictures when the light was right. I tried on Saturday morning, but the sun was too close behind this ramshackle structure.
So I went out there again this evening about two hours before sunset, with the western light striking full on this building’s weathered face and warming its leafy crown. Whatever it was when people had to work there, it’s better now. These are glimpses of Heaven for me. Freedom and joy will come again. God’s design works, though we have to walk hard roads for a season. In the end, the storytellers will be telling stories — as we can now, in our limited gardens . . . but with unending celebration in the gardens to come.
That which is eternal wins in the end. That which is imperishable triumphs over that which is perishable. That which is green and singing has a better end than the clay fired in the kiln, though both, as the photo shows, are together here and now.
But let’s turn to some cheery statistics:
I wrote 2,519 words in my green office (Frick Park, at that same roofed picnic table) on Saturday — the first writing of June!
During the month of May — are you ready for this? — I turned out 18,947 words! Soli Deo Gloria! For those who don’t have a clear handle on what word counts mean (quite understandable): in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), they shoot for writing a novel of 50,000 words. That’s a very small, lean, but viable novel. At 50,000, it’s not a novella, it’s a book on its own. To do that during NaNoWriMo, writers make a commitment to spewing that out in a month, usually working on the book every day. I, working 40 hours a week for the first time since 1993-5, was able (by grace) to produce almost 19,000 words, writing only on Saturdays and Sunday afternoons. And they’re good words — words that advance the novel well! That’s our bronze serpent on the pole. There is life to come, though we dwell daily with death. Those who love Story will be loving it still when all the meaningless wheels cease to turn.
Summer comes, no matter what else is happening. Summer comes. I suppose the lesson I must learn is that those who require summer find the way to snatch it out of the jaws of adulthood. Trees, by the way, grow on the roofs at Greenstar, too. And when I walk the muddy-or-dusty path to the trailer to clock in for the day, I always pause to peer in awe into the huge, cavernous storage house, where the light is murky and the roof is chinked. I count rats, because they are ambassadors of the Word over all, the pins anchoring the tent.
Summer is here, and it is magical. Let us seize it in the books we read. Let us snatch it in how we move and speak.
Does anyone have stories of summer’s arrival in your part of the world? Have you done anything wild to lay hold of the season? Do you have plans to do anything? Tell us, tell us!