Arts Devo

Summer on the brain

Communing with the sky on Brokeoff Mountain.

Communing with the sky on Brokeoff Mountain.

Photo by Ama Posey

Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality. —John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra

Summer flying lessons in Upper Bidwell Park.

Summer brain It’s the curse of living in a college town. When August hits the horizon, an undertow of anxiety starts to tug at my spirit as the shadow of a hectic new semester starts encroaching on the hot freedom of summer. I obviously get a little dramatic at the thought of it all, but I can’t help it—the season of summer isn’t even half over!

The challenge, for those of us whose duties and liabilities increase when school returns (e.g., community-newspaper editors and their Kindergarten-teaching spouses) is to not let our responsibilities kill off the rest of the season prematurely. We have to create boundaries to contain what we have to do, and then be prepared to bust out and leave it inside the wall as we go wild on the other side during the weekend … at least till the actual end of summer.

Thankfully, our town is right next to a 3,670-acre oasis, and getting a fix of natural freedom is only a dusty Bidwell Park trail and an idyllic swimming hole away. But it’s also worth remembering that Muir’s beloved Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Range to its north are basically in our backyard, and in 90 minutes you can be breathing “air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue.” Last weekend, Mrs. DEVO and I did just that as we joined a pack of adventure-seeking friends in taking many big gulps of glorious mountain air as we hiked to the top of Brokeoff Mountain (aka Mount Tehama), Lassen’s shorter, yet more challenging-to-hike, neighbor.

It’s probably the lingering effects of our Sunday getaway that have me all worked up about that fleeting summer feeling. But I’m going to try and stop whining and get back to doing. In fact, I have a week off, and next on the summer checklist is hopefully (depending on the results of a last-minute hiking permit lottery) a day-long hike to the summit of Yosemite’s daunting Half Dome and back this Friday. Following that will be a week stuffed with as much summering as I can handle. If you’re around, hit me up. We’ll wear ourselves out launching off the Diversion Dam into Big Chico Creek and laze away the rest of the day with some tacos and beers on the lawn.