The Beauty of a Summer Tale

A little patch of grass of much fame.

For my AP Language and Composition class, I was assigned to read and analyze John Tobias’ 1967 poem, “Reflections On A Gift Of Watermelon Pickle from a Friend Called Felicity”. Longest title ever, I know, but the length isn’t suggestive of the poem’s concise, lyrical language.

It relates the story – to my understanding so far – of a summer “which may never have been at all; But which has become more real Than the one that was—“. It talks about a time “when unicorns were still possible”, of watermelons that provided “a summer of limitless bites, Of hungers quickly felt And quickly forgotten With the next careless gorging.” It tells us how, “in a jar put up by Felicity,’ which I assume to be happiness, ‘The summer which maybe never was Has been captured and preserved And when we unscrew the lid And slice off a piece And let it linger on our tongue; Unicorns become possible again.”

In what may have been one of the sweetest poems I’ve read in a long time, I’ve found a certain quality of summertime that I never really thought about before. Sometimes, in a world run by people in suits catching the train to the next meeting, by parents that work long hours during the week to be able to enjoy some peace and quiet with their children on the weekends, by teachers that assign homework over the weekends and expect you to continue studying as if you haven’t already been doing so during the week … it’s a little hard to find true beauty in something.

And no, I’m not talking about girls – for once. I’m certain there’s all kinds of beauty to be had with them – whether it’s fake or real.

But I’m talking about the beauty of the summertime. Sure, it’s “beautiful” because it’s a well-deserved break from long months of school work, but I think there’s beauty to be found beneath this. When summer 2010 was coming to an end – little over a month ago, as I was doing my AP summer assignments – I stood up and paced around my house for a few minutes, when I stopped and looked outside. It was, truly, “a bright summer’s day” outside, with the birds chirping, the sun full out, children playing in the pool, ducks showering in the lake, wind under the shade … and I looked at one particular spot in the lake. A little cot of grass that seemed like it was missing only a group of best friends reminiscing or “eating crap”, as many rudely call time with friends, to complete the photograph.

I looked at that spot, and at that point – perhaps the worst point in time possible – I had an epiphany about the true meaning of summer. For long, I’ve wondered about what the true meaning, purpose of summer is. Back in ye olden days, it was so the kids could go home to their parents’ farm and harvest the crops, but that certainly isn’t the case now. Is it for kids to find a job or get ahead on their AP classes coming the following year? No – not at all.

Instead, it’s for us to enjoy an inexplicably pleasant feeling that comes from sitting in a place like that little cot of grass. You know all those shots in movies of friends sitting on a wide open field, with arms around each other, singing “Kumbaya”? Well, that’s what summer’s for. It’s kind of like an acting role, in a sense. But not nearly as superficial. When I saw that little patch of grass by the lake, a feeling of nostalgia and regret swept over – nostalgia from all the amazing times I’d spent with my friends during the summer, and regret that I couldn’t have spent more time with them.  I regretted that I couldn’t experience that sweet ethereal feeling once more … mostly because I had to get back to my AP stuff.

Nonetheless, I had an amazing summer! I got to go to UM for a three-week journalism workshop, as you all know; I often went to McDonald’s with my friends, I went to the beach with them once, I filmed Band Camp the three weeks before school started … truly the best summer yet. But perhaps the regret comes from having not sat in that little patch of grass. 

I get even more nostalgic and regretful when I think of summers before this last one. So to Summer 2010, and all those beforehand – you’re all sorely missed. 

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