“I count it as an absolute certainty that in paradise, everyone naps. A nap is a perfect pleasure and it’s useful, too. It splits the day into two halves, making each half more manageable and enjoyable. How much easier it is to work in the morning if we know we have a nap to look forward to after lunch; and how much more pleasant the late afternoon and evening become after a little sleep. If you know there is a nap to come later in the day, then you can banish forever that terrible sense of doom one feels at 9 A.M. with eight hours of straight toil ahead. Not only that, but a nap can offer a glimpse into a twilight nether world where gods play and dreams happen.”
― How to Be Idle
I’ve always been good at napping. Back in the day, when I was raising my family and working, and life was high-energy and jam-packed, I’d get a quick nap in while sitting in the orthodontist’s waiting room when one of the girls got their braces tightened. When it was me in the dentist’s chair, I can remember dozing off with my head tilted back and eyes closed, while my teeth were being cleaned. And, I could fall asleep standing up in a slow elevator with my head rested against the wall, on the climb up to my office. Those naps, in retrospect, were just signs of exhaustion. Now that I’ve learned to be idle in retirement, I take proper naps, and there is nothing so lovely as a nap in summer. A proper nap is not when you lie down on the sofa with your book, or on the lounge chair in dappled sunshine, or even in the hammock softly swaying under the tree branches. Rather, it’s best done when sunlight is streaming across the pillows on your bed, and through the open window you feel a cool breeze, and maybe hear the distant sound of a lawnmower or boat on the lake. Chirping robins are an added lullaby. Moments after you snuggle down into the pillows and feel your legs melt into the mattress, you find that you have somehow levitated above your body and are hovering there–“into a twilight nether world where gods play and dreams happen.” There are always sweet dreams, never bad ones, and then suddenly–maybe ten minutes later–you come back down into your body and realize you are awake, refreshed, and ready to pop back into the day. Winter naps are different. They are longer, deeper, and you need a nice cup of tea when you get up, to ease back into the remainder of the day. They are nice, of course, in their own way, but they are out of season right now.
In between the daily showers and thunderstorms, there have been perfect napping conditions filled with sunshine and birdsong. There are days now that truly feel like summer–at least for a good portion of the day. Those are the evenings when I watch the sunset from the porch, quiet and still, and I think back to the morning, and often can’t remember if it was this morning, or was that yesterday morning. These are the days in which it feels like all of summer has happened in one day, so full, of so much time.
Soon, the speed of time around here will greatly accelerate, as all my family arrive at once for weeks together at the lake. It is so fun, so high energy, so exhilarating, with grandkids at play, and non-stop adult chatter, and late night drinking. In our lives now, this is what makes summer, Summer. I remember twenty plus years ago, when we were designing the lake house, Don cautioned me that we must build it for ourselves–not for visions of visiting children, or for the grandkids we might have in the future. With all the girls scattered around the country, we must prepare for being alone here. As it has turned out, there’s a dormitory room upstairs, lined with beds, and photos on the walls of grandchildren over eighteen summers, when grandkids have filled the house and spilled into the lake in summer fun. And, a fair number of Thanksgivings and Christmases as well, documented by ice skating and sledding photos. It has all turned out just grand, just grand.
Soon, my summer naps will leave the realm of poetry and turn into survival reality! We are storing up our energy, and counting down the days, to what is always the very best part of summer at the lake.
“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings.” —Lewis Carroll