Last week I was too stuffed up and busy to really register the summer solstice. I don’t dress up in fairy garb and dance around my front yard, but I do like to notice these things- especially the longest day of the year because it’s pleasing. I’m getting caught up and laid back. The girls have been out of school for almost a week. I drank a lovely glass of rosé wine with my friends Elizabeth and David as we dined outside on their patio last night. A guy on a bike, dog on a leash just rode past my window and the smell of fresh cut grass is wafting in. Idyllic, no? I find myself taking nice slow breaths.
It’s encouraging to realize that I do actually know how to relax. There’s some sort of muscle memory at work. I actually looked at the clock last night and found that I really didn’t care what time it was. Yeah, I’ve got a lot of good work to do and the girls schedule is erratic. Instead of my longish days while they’re at school, I’ve got choppy days with scattered bits of time. But there’s no early wake up and no homework. It’s lovely. The good weather definitely helps too.
Last summer, my reading frenzy consisted of the trio of Stieg Larsson novels, To Kill a Mockingbird (Slipcased Edition) and more that I can’t remember. My author of choice this summer is Ann Patchett and I’m continuing my obsession with Patti Smith. There’s a new book out with photographs of Smith–Patti Smith 1969-1976.
The photographs are by Smith’s friend, Judy Linn. They met and hung out in New York. Here’s a quote from Smith in her afterword to the book:
I go back to the beginning when Judy and I met on a summer’s day in 1968. Neither of our boyfriends, Peter nor Robert, survived the twentieth century. We never could have known we would outlive them, just as these photographs will outlive us all. But they both are here, embedded in our movie, the film not shot. And these are the stills. Like cards that fell from a mystical deck. Any way you shuffle them, they testify that once upon a time we were innocent and beautiful and anyone we imagined we could be.
The book is a lovely reflection of the freedom and beauty Smith writes about. I think I’m so taken with Patti Smith and that formative era of her life in the 60′s and 70′s because the energy of possibility is palpable in her words and in the photos I’ve seen. Her life as an artist was just beginning and she didn’t know what form it was going to take. She painted, drew, wrote, modeled and found her voice over and over. It’s a deep, personal journey. With Just Kids and other books and films, Smith has invited us in to share the memory of that discovery. Unlike a dusty old inventory of snaps and journals, her words are very much alive. This obsession of mine connects with the raw, vulnerable, edgy, open place where we all create our art. In my days of schedules and responsibilities as a mother, it’s exciting to know that I can still tap into that current. And summer is the perfect time for playing with all of this.