Half over

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(HOST) With July now behind us, commentator Madeleine Kunin advises making the most of the summer days that remain – and she’s taking her own advice.

(KUNIN) On the first days of August, I realize – with a start – that summer is more than half over.

Make it go slowly.

Much as we love fall in Vermont, fall means work, schedules and obligations. Shorter days, cooler nights, sneakers replacing san- dals, slacks instead of shorts. For those fortunate enough to be on a school schedule, summer remains filled with open time, spaces and good intentions.

All the books we wanted to read have not been read yet; some have not even made it to the piles that stand at my bedside table, the dining table and the couch.

Should I use this precious fluid time to read serious thought- expanding books like The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman, or should I indulge myself in something light and more frothy, like Jane Fonda’s autobiography, with its reminders of the 70s, intro- ducing me to a life so different from my own? I switch between the two, acknowledging that summer is the time for good books and not so good books.

The desire to do nothing and the desire to do everything also conflict in the summer in Vermont. Check any newspaper, and
its advertisements will be full of concerts, summer theatres, fairs, exhibits, church suppers – Mozart, Marlboro, St. Michael’s Play- house – something going on every night. In many ways, summer
is the most busy time of year; so much to do and so little time.

Do we try to take it all in, or just find a beautiful spot to watch the sunset over Lake Champlain? Different every evening – depending on where the clouds decide to position themselves, and what shades of gray and white are illuminated by the ever miraculous gold, pink and red artist called the sun.

Just being outside is a treat for New Englanders in these leisurely summer days – stopping to buy fresh corn, red tomatoes and just- picked blueberries. But then there is the urge to do things – like canoe, kayak, hike, bicycle and, of course, swim.

A little urgent voice speaks over my shoulder, and says, “Do it now, while the weather is good, while you have the time,” but the other voice says, “Take it easy, it’s summer, pick up that beach chair, take that book, the bottle of cold ice tea, and relax.” Fall and its brisk days and bright colors will be here soon enough with all its routine telling us where to be and what to do.

On these first days of August, I promise not to complain about the heat, or even the humidity, as I languish by the lake for a couple of hours, turning the pages of my book.

This is Madeleine May Kunin.

Madeleine Kunin is a former governor of Vermont.

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