Rhythms of Summer, Rhythms of Life

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings

(One of those days, Folks!)

The sound of life is measured by its own rhythms. At its most elemental, there is the rhythm of the heartbeat. Parents are reassured and then overwhelmed upon hearing that first fetal heartbeat. A lover, quiet after the escalating drumming of two hearts, is comforted to hear the steady beat of his or her beloved’s heart as they lie together, one resting a head upon the other’s chest. Animals find heartbeats soothing, too–my cat cuddles against me in the night. My heartbeat calms him, and the rhythm of his purrs comforts me.

When the heart stops beating, the body dies. The pushing and pulsing of blood through our bodies is necessary for us to live. [As an aside–because this is the way my mind works– have you noticed that in popular culture, people kill vampires by putting a stake through their hearts, but zombies have to have their brains stabbed or heads cut off? Is it because vampires feed on blood, but zombies eat bodies? Add to list of things to ponder.]

The earth also has a rhythm. Watching the ocean from the beach, I’m often mesmerized by simply watching the waves as they crash upon the shore. There is something hypnotic about that rhythm and the rolling of the waves, as well as the beauty of the water catching the light and creating a tumble of white, silver, blue, and green and spraying rainbows into the air.

Summer seems to have its own special rhythm. This summer has been a busy one for us, marked by rhythms of life and life’s passages—one daughter’s graduation from graduate school, our other daughter’s wedding, and my husband’s retirement.

The song, “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof, has become a sort of cliché at weddings. (For the record, it wasn’t played at either of our daughters’ weddings.) But like all clichés, it was once fresh and new, and the words ring true. At each wedding, I did wonder to myself as I gazed at the beautiful bride, “Is this the little girl I carried?”

The chorus of the song, reminds us of the passage of time, and the rhythm of day to night, season to season, months to years:

Sunrise, sunset

Sunrise, sunset,

Swiftly fly the years.

One season following another.

Laden with happiness and tears.

As well as life changes, I’ve been caught up in work–finishing one book project, beginning two more, and writing test items. Testing is big business. Still, no matter the activities, summer marches to a slow, lazy beat that is different from the brisk upbeat of autumn and the solemn dirge of winter. Even though we’ve yet to make it to the beach this summer to watch those mesmerizing waves, we’ve spent time outside—

Watching a Bastille Day event at Eastern State Penitentiary, a silly hour of song, dance, and jokes hosted by “Edith Piaf” of the Bearded Ladies Cabaret. (“Marie Antoinette yells, “Let them eat TastyKakes,” before hundreds of them are tossed to the crowd below.)

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Drinking wine, eating pizza, and watching a performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest at a local New Jersey winery,

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And enjoying the bounty of local farms.


This is why New Jersey is known as the Garden State. Yes, it’s more than highways and the Jersey Shore.

In the summer I long to sit on the beach or on a shaded porch and spend hours reading a novel, simply relaxing. I haven’t had a chance to do this yet, but I still have some weeks left before summer marches on. Soon, its hazy, lazy-feeling days will merge into the crisp, clear, get-back-to-work fall. Then winter will come–and instead of longing to be outside, I will want to huddle under a blanket and read a novel. I’ll want to turn on lights to find my way out of the darkness, to eat hearty soups with homemade bread, and to wish again for languid summer days. I have work to do now, but perhaps a nap is in order. It’s all part of life’s rhythms, and after all, it is summer time.

22 thoughts on “Rhythms of Summer, Rhythms of Life

  1. You must have had enjoyed using the strike-through function on your title today! 😉

    A question about your musings and ruminations: Did you hear any cicada sounds vibrating as you pursued your circadian rhythms this weekend. (That’s how my mind works.)

    You guys are having too much fun! With the heavy workload you are carrying, Merril, it’s good to see you two relaxing on the weekends.

    • You’re so sweet to think about me, Marian! I tried to get the post up this morning, but I had technical issues, and I had to get out to an appointment.
      I haven’t actually noticed the sound of cicadas this summer. Perhaps because we’ve been in the a/c? Or maybe they come out more later in the summer here?
      I meant to ask you if you’ve been to Kitchen Kettle Village? My daughter and husband went there on of their “mini-moon” trips.

  2. What a lovely flowing post , we don’t really have seasons where I live so miss the autumn and spring but my blogging friends bring those seasons to life for me which helps. Cicadas in abundance though. Have a nice day 🙂

  3. Late in the day but just to say a great post Merril and the photos too – am simply salivating, imagining. Last year at the end of March I was with my bridesmaid in NJ (she lives in New Vernon) and I had no wish to go to NY – I was quite happy to be with her and walk in beautiful parks, have coffee here and there, slip and slide on the ice …

    • Thank so much, Susan! I’m in NJ near Philadelphia, so nowhere near your friend. You came quite a distance to visit her! We definitely had some snow and ice last winter, but not as much snow as my older daughter had in Boston. The last snow mound just recently melted there. 🙂

  4. Lovely, gentle post, Merril. I love the idea of the rhythm of life, have for many years. I’ve felt of late that I’m in a winter phase, pulling in, reframing, waiting. At some point I expect I shall once again “spring forth” but into what I have no clue. I’m content to chill and see what occurs. Fortunately, I wrote out all my summertime blog posts a month ago. So now, all I must do is respond to my wonderful Commenters, like you.

    • Thanks so much, Janet. You’re very kind.
      I’m sure that you’re “chilling” will lead to a blooming in spring.
      You are much more organized than I am. My blog posts are obviously NOT written in advance. 😉

  5. Merril … Your post had me tripping down memory lane as I thought of the Cascades’ song “Listen to the Rhythm of the Falling Rain.” I do love to hear rainfall – although we’ve had too much of late. Both a gentle rainfall and the sound of thunder in the distance often lull me to sleep.

    I can relate so much to the rhythms you wrote about. Your words create lovely images. 😉

    • Thanks so much, Judy!
      I agree that a gentle rainfall can be very soothing. I love that rain smell, too. I’m not so keen on thunderstorms though–a few weeks ago, there was a lot of damage in S. Jersey from winds and a tornado.’

      • The key word, for me, is thunderstorm sounds “in the distance.” I lived down the street from a church in Syracuse, New York that was struck by lightning and it demolished the bell tower. Scary.

      • Yes, WAY in the distance is fine. 😉
        One of our cats used to hide at the first sign of thunder–sometimes even before we heard it. He’s much braver now, and only hides when it’s nearby. Sometimes that’s my gauge.

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