Tag Archives: summer



It’s summer. This should come as no surprise to anyone. After all, it’s July, and while that may mean chilly temperatures for our friends in New Zealand, here in Southeastern America it means heat.

Heavy, sticky, disgusting heat.

Heat that seeps through the drywall. Heat that no car AC can hope to defeat. Heat that filters in through unshuttered windows and hovers above leather seats and steering wheels.

The South is humid. Unlike the West, where the air may be hot but remains breathable, the perpetual 50% humidity of the South turns air of any temperature into barely inhalable soup. Puddles from occasional rainstorms stay for days, and sweat has nowhere to go.

Summer in the South means you never. Stop. Sweating.

Okay, maybe normal people do. I don’t.

Something happened to me when I started my 20s. Something awful. I used to be one of the few teenagers that never, ever got a pimple, glistened vaguely during workouts, and smelled like a flower garden 88% of the time. But my 20s hit and boom, acne and buckets and buckets of inexplicable sweat.

I suspect I have some rare breed of adrenal issue that I might just have inherited from my father. We both have issues with heat. My father and I both start feeling uncomforatbly warm at around 70 degrees (that’s 21 degrees for my friends in New Zealand). We start dripping sweat at 75. Eighty and we’re swimming in our own natural coolant. Ninety and we’re drooling over travel brochures on northern Russia.

I seem to have an added complication to my sweat issue. I sweat when in situations where I have to socialize with strangers or even acquaintences. I sweat at parties. I sweat when I get in front of people to speak, sing, or otherwise perform. I sweat if I sit still too long. I sweat when I stand too long. I sweat if I have to wait in line anywhere, especially government offices. If you see me in any social context where I am thinking of the next thing I have to say, you’ll probably see me with my hands tucked under my arms, not because I am nervous or emtionally gaurded but because I’m trying to gauge just how large the sweatstains under my arms are growing and at what rate and what on earth can I do to hide them.

And that’s just in the fall and winter. In the summer the nightmare gets about 1000x worse.

My poor long-suffering spouse spends his July evenings in flannel pajamas burrowed into a pile of quilts while I sprawl out in shorts and a tank top next to our window AC unit which is allegedly blasting 60 degree air while my sweat glands remain unconvinced. (That’s 15 degrees for our friends in New Zealand.)

And yes, I know what you’re thinking. “Just buy some antiperspirent deoderant. Problem solved.” Yes, sure, but only if they manage to put it in a spray bottle and in large enough quantities to coat my whole body in it every day from May to November.

Or, as an alternative, I could just relocate to a different climate for the summer months. Somewhere like New Zealand.





It Was Like This


There was a lot I was going to get done this afternoon after church.

I was going to write thank you notes to all the lovely people whogave us wedding gifts. I have a long list of people to thank, and the more I can get done the quicker I can, the better things will be.

I was also going to try an read a little. I love reading, and I never have time to sit down and read something that isn’t an email. I have a really long list of books I’ve read a few chapters from and had to set aside because of school. School is coming again, and even though I’ll only be taking one class, I know life will find ways of being busy and I won’t get to read anymore. Unless it’s for class.

I also wanted to write in my journal, which I haven’t touched since the night before the wedding. There’s a lot that needs recording (such as how the wedding went) but I haven’t had a moment to sit down and record all of those important memories.

But you see, it rained. It was Sunday afternoon, and it rained. A gentle, grey, cool rain that fell lullingly on the roof, on the grass, on the road outside my parent’s house where we were spending the afternoon.

I was forced to nap. I promised myself I would only sleep for thirty minutes, but I was in the coolest and greyest corner of the house, and my stomach was pleasently full, and there was the rain steadily drumming…

I had no choice but to sleep for two hours.

I’m sorry.



It’s hot.

It’s hot in the middle of the night.

It’s hot in the car when the air conditioner at full blast.

It’s hot underneath just the sheets while wearing shorts.

It’s hot under a fan in the dark with the crickets droning on outside the shut-tight window.

It’s far too hot to sleep. But hot enough to make you sleepy.

And fall cannot get here soon enough.

Summer Sound


I’m not a fan of summer. It’s too hot for my taste, as well as far too sticky and sunny. I’m an autumn girl, but the South doesn’t know what a real autumn is. We get four seasons of summer around here: Summer, Post-Summer, Damp Summer, and Pre-Summer. Yes, winter is just damp summer around here.

Summer has grown on me over the years. It used to be that I wouldn’t step foot outside in the summer unless compelled to do so by activities I didn’t necessarily sign up for. Recently, though, after traveling in hotter countries than mine and living for weeks without air conditioning, I’ve learned to tolerate the heat. In fact, now I’m more likely to get too cold than too warm. I like the feel of the sun on my shoulders, and I’ve lost my aversion to sweating and humidity.

But I’ve always loved the sounds of a southern summer.

It’s the cicadas, mostly. I’ve always loved the sound of humming cicadas. Daytime finds them joining in a great swelling chorus line, humming together under the direction of some unseen conductor. At night, the crickets join them, their silvery notes making the air hum and shimmer with the sounds of childhood dreams.

Then there’s the sound of summer thunder, rolling and deep. The thunder sounds of summer are warmer and thicker than the rattling thunder of winter and spring. Winter and spring storms are aggressive, overassertive. Summer storms are here to stay. They don’t feel the need to make a name for themselves. They come and they sit, rumbling away like a disgruntled neighbor rambling about politics. Angry, but resigned.

It’s the crickets that charm me most. Cricket song always meant something magical was about to happen. Fireflies came out with the crickets. Firecrackers, too, and fireworks. Bonfires and marshmallows came out with the crickets. And watermelons and grill smoke. Crickets brought all these things to summertime. They sang me to sleep, and when they stopped it was time to get up and play.

Night in, night out, until autumn came and chased them all away.



It’s not summer yet. But I feel the change rippling through the air.

There’s a distinctive sound of cricket song making the air shimmer at night.

The sun hits the leaves just right at dusk and makes them glow green-gold.

The air smells of memories. You know what it’s like, smelling a memory? You take a deep breath in and suddenly you forget your age and remember what it was like to wake up on Saturday morning and notice the dust specks floating in the air and nothing else.

The sun hits your skin and makes it ring at a specific frequency. Suddenly you’re browner (or pinker) and freckles flicker into view like stars at sunset.

And the air feels heavy. Heavy with oncoming storms. Heavy air wet from rain and children clambering out of swimming pools for ice cream.

Heavy with possibilities. 

Alas, Poor Summer—I Knew It Well


What a wonderful summer this has been.

Slower paced compared to the whirlwind of last summer—but still wonderful. Perhaps it was wonderful because it was slower paced. Who can tell?

God let me go back to Croatia. And can’t express my gratitude properly for that trip—I just can’t. Not only did He get me over there, but He gave me fantastic students and blossomed friendships that were only seedlings last year. It was hard, exhausting work, coaching those children in their English skills—but fun work, seeing how enthusiastic they were about learning. Now I don’t just want to go back—I feel like I absolutely must go back, at any cost, never mind that I’m starting grad school next year. I love the people too much to stay away. This is a love I wouldn’t have come by without God working in my heart, and for that I am truly grateful.

This summer, I tried new things. Mangoes, for instance. Smoothie-making. Pie-crust baking. Manufacturing tricksy non-cookies (that tasted delicious). Owl City. A long list of songs I’d never heard before. Eating ćevapi. Drinking tea instead of coffee in the mornings. Doctor Who. Grilled broccoli. Yes, most of that has to do with food. No, you shouldn’t judge.

My wonderful parents gave me a car for my twenty-first birthday. I think the awesome ramifications of that sentence are self-explanatory. I thank them often. I will keep thanking them until the car rattles apart around me. There are no words for their love.

I got to spend a week in North Carolina with my family. Not only North Carolina, but the mountains of North Carolina. It’s my favorite place in the world, and I’ve never gotten to spend a whole week up there, so that was a treat beyond treats.

There was a ton, and I mean a TON, of rain this summer in Anytown. We’ve been in a drought for a decade, and for once I am not exaggerating. It has rained daily since March—not just little rain showers here and there, but torrential downpours. Daily. Our lakes and rivers are back up to normal levels again, and not once did any of the Rambler clan have to go out in the morning to water the plants.

This has been my healthiest summer. The exercise I have gotten has been frequent and energizing, and I’ve never eaten better in my life. A skin skirmish that started in March (right along with the humidity) got me to change my diet to eating no refined sugar, heaps of fruits and vegetables, almost zero junk food, and lots of fish. Did I lose any weight? Nope. If anything, I gained. Do I care? Nope. I’ve never felt better. A number on a scale, after all, is just a number. You may recall how well I handle numbers.

Writing poems. That happened a lot. I have written more poems this summer than I ever have in my whole life, and that’s counting school projects from my elementary school years. I love it so much I can’t stop, and I’m grateful to have had the time to devote to it.

Best yet, I got to spend time with good friends all summer long. Normally I spend my summers in a kind of willing isolation, either at work, on vacation with my family, or at home, recuperating from a hard school year with the aid of books. But at least once every week, I got to hang out with one person or several people. Whether it was to watch a movie, go to a park, go out to eat, or to just sit and talk—every week ensured a lovely time spent well with wonderful people. And that, my friends, was fabulous.

God has given me the best summer of my life. Perhaps they will only keep getting better. Let’s hope.

But as of tomorrow, it’s back to school. Back to pencils. Back to books. Back to…

Well, you know.

Next summer will hold its share of adventures. The last Sisterhood road trip—or at least the last road trip that all of us can attend, since one of us will be getting married and moving to Wisconsin (also next summer, after the road trip). I hope to return to Croatia for more experiences in English-teaching. I’ll be moving far from Anytown to begin graduate school. Lord willing. Stay tuned for more of The Adventures of Risabella Rambler. Same time. Same station.




One Small Step


At the beginning of the summer, I made a mental list.

This list enumerated all the things that I might hypothetically want to get accomplished this summer. I make such a list every year, and I have yet to accomplish everything on the list by the time school starts again in the fall. But I always get some of those things done, if only a few.

Every year, watching The Lord of the Rings all the way through has been on the list. It is one of the few things that gets done every year. Oddly, this may be the first summer in forever that this doesn’t happen. There’s very little summer left.

Every summer, I vow to read a ton of books. That happens to varying degrees of “ton-ness”—sometimes I read a little, sometimes a lot. I’ve read fewer and fewer books every summer. Tragic, isn’t it?

Every summer, I promise myself to exercise four days a week. This always happens. Whether or not I get stronger or lose weight…well…that’s up for debate and scrutiny.

This summer, I told myself that I would read Les Miserables. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I got distracted by shorter, less depressing, less French books.

This summer, I said I would try to eat a mango. I did. It was fun. And sticky.

This summer, I told myself that I absolutely, positively would try to get a poem published in a magazine.

So what will I be doing in this, the last month before school begins?

Well, for the past two days, I’ve been thumbing through my Christian Writer’s Market Guide, 2013 Edition in search of publications that might possibly consider publishing my poetry. I’ve been dog-earing and underlining titles that sound promising, scanning submission guideline, trying to figure out which magazine pay for poems and which ones don’t, and trying to figure out if I care if I get paid or not.

Then there’s the debate about what to submit. I mean, I know which of my poems I think are the best, but those are the poems that are probably least likely to be published. The best thing I can think of for publication in a magazine would be “Like Rain,” the sonnet I posted back in March (April?)—but most of the magazines I’m looking at are looking for “light verse.” Is a sonnet “light verse?” Is there a scale for weighing poems to see if they’re light enough?

And of course, most of them are looking for poems by “established writers,” including a magazine that claims to cater to newcomers to the freelance creative writing scene. Um, how can I become an “established writer” if even the magazine featuring new writers won’t publish stuff by new writers?

I feel like I’m somehow aspiring to a whole new plane of starving-artistry. Not only did I decide to be a creative writing major (guaranteed empty-fridge scenario if ever there was one), but I’ve half-decided to make my way in a glutted writing market by hawking off my poems.


It sort of feels like attacking a dragon with a coat hanger.

But I told myself I would do it, and come hail or high water, I will submit a poem to at least one magazine by the time summer break is over. So let it be written. So let it be done.

If I’m going to freelance like I’ve always dreamed of doing, then I’ve got to start somehow.

(P.S.: I will be traveling with my family from Saturday to the following Sunday. I am half tempted, if not wholly determined to write and post a poem for every day of my vacation. Should I do it? Yes? No? Maybe so? Let me know what you think, my wonderful readers.)

The Last Lazy Sunday


Sundays are intentionally slow days in our family. They are, after all, intended as days of rest, and resting has always been a priority on the first day of the week. We go to church, come back, eat carb-laden food, and take naps. At least, that’s the case during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and summertime.

During a typical school semester, not much resting gets done on Sundays. True, the schedule is a bit slower, and life moves at a less hectic pace than usual, but there’s often homework left to be done and, for my mother, papers to grade. So naps and nothing ness aren’t always possible.

But today, now that the semester’s over, we have that chance.

Right now there is little obligation to do anything. There are things to do, but they can be done in slow motion. I can doze if I want to, or I can choose not to doze. I can write if I want to, or not write. To sleep or not to sleep. To work or not to work.

Suddenly I feel very Shakespearean.

But Summer’s here. Everything runs at a slower pace. A groggy, lazy fog has fallen over Anytown, and soon we’ll all be lazing around Sunday after Sunday after lazy Sunday.

That is, until I start summer school tomorrow.

I’m a sucker for punishment, aren’t I?