When we were twenty-one (half a lifetime ago now), G and I spent a verdant summer together in the Finger Lakes.
Six Mile Creek and its many swimming holes flowed within two hundred yards of our apartment. A ten minute walk upstream lived two beavers. A large one and a smaller one. When sought, they were never not there.
We drank malt liquor without consequence and scrambled errantly up the side of the apartment building to reach the flat rooftop that looked west over the valley toward the thunderheads and eventually sunset. Things we said on that roof still come up in conversation two decades later - dropped casually like Easter eggs for the other to find. I feel like I weigh 185 pounds.
B left notes and bagels in our mailbox late at night on her way home from closing. In the mornings, I drove a white pickup from alfalfa field to corn field collecting aphids for the entomology department. In the afternoons, S and I sifted samples in an open greenhouse next to a fallow acre and listened to music on a clock radio. Questioning each choice. Debating what would have been a better song to play.
Every evening was careless.
We spent weekends in places like the Poconos and Saratoga Springs and Watkins Glen. People gave us places to stay. Places to sleep. Drove us there and back. We drank beer. We travelled light.
The summer ended without fanfare. A dry week eating crabs and corn-on-the-cob at my aunt’s on the Mattawoman Creek in Virginia. Or maybe it was the Nassawadox. Then it was autumn and I returned to the Finger Lakes but they had changed.
If I struggle at all, it is with gratitude. Not feeling it but expressing it. Who do you thank for a summer like that? For all the summers?
The task is enormous and I procrastinate infinitely.