Sunday, May 15, 2011

On summer

I read two novels by Virginia Woolf this weekend. The first, The Waves, is a dense little bugger - one I didn't think I could make my way through until at some moment her prose cracked and out shone a series of startling, vibrant soliloquies. About 30 pages in, one of her characters has a monologue about how exactly she plans to spend her first day of summer, and it reminds me of how, as a kid, I would keep a tally of the number of days until summer and write it on the class board every morning before first period. This says it even better:

"'I have torn off the whole of May and June,' said Susan, 'and twenty days of July. I have torn them off and screwed them up so they no longer exist, save as a weight in my side. They have been crippled days, like moths with shrivelled wings unable to fly. There are only eight days left. In eight days' time I shall get out of the train and stand on the platform at six twenty-five. Then my freedom will unfurl, and all these restrictions that wrinkle and shrivel--hours and order and discipline, and being here and there exactly at the right moment--will crack asunder. Out the day will spring, as I open the carriage-door and see my father in his old hat and gaiters. I shall tremble. I shall burst into tears. Then next morning I shall get up at dawn. I shall let myself out by the kitchen door. I shall walk on the moor. The great horses of phantom riders will thunder behind me and stop suddenly. I shall see the swallow skim the grass. I shall throw myself on a bank by the river and watch the fish slip in and out among the reeds. The palms of my hands will be printed with pine-needles. I shall there unfold and take out whatever it is I have made here; something hard. For something has grown in me here, through the winters and summers, on staircases, in bedrooms.'"

--The Waves, pg. 32-33

In related news: Four more weeks of work, one more paper, and then Ryan and I are embarking on our second cross-country trip. Destination: Calgary.

We shall let ourselves out into the summer air. We shall tremble. We shall burst into song...


Carol said...

OK, sorry Julia, but that just sounds too fun. Not permitted. Now is the time to begin saving for your 401K so you can retire at 80 in a great retirement community!!! I am only reminding you of these realities for your own good.
With an abundance of love,
I remain,
Very sincerely yours,

RachelVB said...

Oh to have a summer again. Soak it up! I could get so much done if I had a whole summer! Or maybe I just think I could and in actuality I'd get nothing accomplished...
either way. Enjoy!

Lyra said...

This one is stunning, m'dear. Just LOVE this. The whole thing. You help me enjoy Ms. Woolf. May I repost this? So dang cool. I love summer. (and am I lucky to have an "in" with you? yes indeedy.)

miss J. said...

Carol - I hide my 401k beneath my insulin pump. My pancreas keeps it warm. ;)

Rachel - I do plan to soak this summer up, as next year I will be wading through job applications...

Mom - Ms. Woolf has her moments. She has a surprising sense of humor at times. And you and your dress embody summer.