Summer afternoon—summer afternoon

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon,” Henry James wrote late in his life, repeating the phrase with evident relish, as if to squeeze the full pleasure out of it, “to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” It’s easy to see his point, to follow him into the meadowland that those two words conjure effortlessly. Surely “summer afternoon” suggests a lovely aimlessness, with time as a friendly spirit guide, not a haunting, hectoring ghost. Lemonade, ice beading the glass, comes to mind, and a fat 19th-century novel that you’ll never actually finish but can drift into, and then let fall open on the grass, as you get lost (you’re in a hammock under a big shade tree) in a drift of clouds passing overhead, shaping and reshaping themselves. That’s “summer afternoon” for you. It gathers you up, paradoxically, when you give up hunting for it. Keep it simple: Walk the dog, let her sniff to her intelligent nose’s deep content—no rushing her along to get the job done. Pausing, gazing, staring idly—this is the odd discipline of leisure. Let it find you on a park bench, with a bag of stale bread for the ducks in the pond…A nap occurs somewhere in the midst of this summer afternoon, the kind where you don’t really fall asleep but glide around in your mind, surprised by a memory, a moment, a regret, maybe your mother’s hands, her rings swiveling, your father and his deep frown, or that bully in second grade you kicked in the groin, glad to hear him howl and stop teasing you. Now you’re smiling. Your mind floats among these drifting bits that suddenly seem intensely worthy of attention, valuable. Just pause over these lost details, the collection you didn’t even know you’d amassed.Maybe that’s the way to practice for the launch of a successful vacation—not with a plan for two weeks freighted with expectation but with a single afternoon at full and indulgent ease. Call it a summer afternoon, not quite vacation time. It leads you past the fretful workweek into this sweet shimmering season you’ve been waiting for all year long.

~ Patricia Hampl, from “All of Summer In a Single Afternoon” (wsj.com, June 21, 2018)


Photo by Ali de Niese titled Lemonade (“I have a great love and admiration for the paintings of the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. I love the combination of yellow and blue with a touch of white which is used in some of his paintings (e.g. Girl With A Pearl Earring, The Milkmaid). I’ve tried to create my own version of a yellow and blue still life, ‘after but nowhere near Vermeer’, if you like.”

Comments

  1. A lovely paean to those precious summer idles, and I LOVE the painting! Going to check out this artist now. Happy Saturday, pal! Make it a leisurely one….

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The painting looks like a photograph – amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. a ‘lovely aimlessness.’ yes

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You just reenforced my love for Hempl….. again….. 🙂
    I too like Vermeer and I very much like this ‘imitation is the highest form of admiration’ photographer’s work!

    But I like best the cited quote (you could have taken it from one of my summer uploads of long ago – because this ‘summer afternoon, summer afternoon’ REALLY is the greatest summer quote – in two words too – I know! Closely followed by:
    A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken. (James Dent)
    Quite funny as I never realised the deep truth of the last three words of Dent’s quote until it became a harsh truth in my life in France, where we have 1150m2 of lawn and garden to tend to!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I LOVE this! I need to go buy a hammock…and some bug spray!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It comes out of nowhere, summer afternoon! On the perfect summer day, not every summer day, late afternoon to dusk, there a stretch of time that feels like a new dimension. It’s like someone cut an opening through time and inserted an extra hour, or, like earth slowed down a bit. And in that stretch of time everything is different.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Delicious, DK… simply delicious!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Christie says:

    “Summer afternoon—summer afternoon,” ” It gathers you up” and today I am engulfed in love and embraced in summer warmth as I mingle in pleasure in perfect time, flowing in Joy as my birthday drifts on, effortlessly …

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Happy Birthday Christie!

    Like

  10. Blissful… both the picture and the text.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Easy to understand!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Christie says:

    Dave, thanks for the kind, birthday wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Reblogged this on Sherrie's Scriptorium.

    Like

  14. Anonymous says:

    Like it, except bread makes ducks sick!

    Liked by 1 person

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