Holding Summer In Your Hand

I’m not much of a beach person or a swimmer, but I like summer; and I love what summer brings: conversations in the shade, wine on the patio, warm nights with music playing softly.

In Chicago, the days can be sweltering, but sometimes we get lucky. Sometimes we get summer days that are bright and comfortable, the kind of golden-hued days I remember from childhood– filled with laughter and imaginative adventures late into the night. The best summer days end when we tumble into bed exhausted and fully satisfied, our bodies tired and our hearts full.

So much of last summer was shadowed in heartache because of the failing health and deaths of my grandmother and grandfather. There were moments of happiness and moments of beauty,  but they were tempered by a longing for days when Baba and Dido were healthy and strong.

babadidosquare We are approaching the one year anniversary of my Baba’s death, and it’s still hard to believe she’s not sitting across the kitchen table from my Dido in the Ukrainian Village, serving him some of her delicious varenyky or a slice of torte with his coffee, maybe indulging him as he asks for more peaches or pickles.

I think of them all the time, and I feel them around, especially my Baba. I believe that she still watches over us–her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She was a caretaker and the matriarch, and I can’t believe she would let death stop her.

Our lives move so fast; we orbit around one another, busy until something forces us to stop. If we’re lucky, it’s a happy occasion that reminds us to notice the circles of which we are a part.

This summer I am trying to be mindful of those moments of  joy in the company of family, tribe, and kindred spirits. There have been several: a 4th of July family bbq, visits with friends in the backyard, campfire chats, margaritas after swimming, lunch with out-of-town friends, and thoughtful conversations over wine as the sun comes up.

I began this post with the intention of writing about specific highlights so far (camping with the kids and friends, lunch with Gene and Neil, Neil’s Ocean reading and time spent with the illustrious Cat, my first Readercon and the wonderful people I met there). Each one was a cherished moment, and together they have shaped this summer into a remarkable one so far.

The remaining weeks of summer stretch not too far into the future, and autumn waits close by to take its place. Before the leaves fall, there are a few more trips to be taken and adventures to be had, good books to read (some written by friends), wine to drink, stories to be written, and children to play with.

“Hold summer in your hand, pour summer in a glass, a tiny glass of course, the smallest tingling sip for children; change the season in your veins by raising glass to lip and tilting summer in.” ~Ray Bradbury, DANDELION WINE

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Lunch with Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe, Chicago.
At the train station with Marco Palmieri and Sam J. Miller.
At the train station with Marco Palmieri and Sam J. Miller, Boston.
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Another marvelous Readercon dinner.
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After our interviews with Gil Roth for his Virtual Memories Podcast (Nancy Hightower, Theodora Goss, Valya Dudycz Lupescu)
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Camping with friends.

Published by Valya

Valya Dudycz Lupescu has been making magic with food and words for more than 20 years, incorporating folklore from her Ukrainian heritage with practices that honor the Earth. She’s a writer, content developer, instructor, and mother of three teenagers. Valya is the author of THE SILENCE OF TREES and the founding editor of CONCLAVE: A Journal of Character. Along with Stephen H. Segal, she is the co-author of FORKING GOOD: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of The Good Place and GEEK PARENTING: What Joffrey, Jor-El, Maleficent, and the McFlys Teach Us about Raising a Family (Quirk Books), and co-founder of the Wyrd Words storytelling laboratory. Valya earned her MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and her poetry and prose have been published in anthologies and magazines that include, The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, Kenyon Review, Culture, Gargoyle Magazine, Gone Lawn, Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium. You can find her on Twitter @valya.

One thought on “Holding Summer In Your Hand”

  1. Louise Hyzny Sanders Scarpelli says:

    A big thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

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