Summer Afternoon – the Two Most Beautiful Words in the English Language

Well at least according to the author Henry James.

I was unaware of James having made such a statement, but came across it in a beautiful essay in today’s Wall Street Journal by Patricia Hampl.

She writes:

It’s easy to see his (James’) point, to follow him into the meadowland that those two words conjure effortlessly. Surely “summer afternoon” suggests a lovely aimlessness, with time as a friendly spirit guide, not a haunting, hectoring ghost. Lemonade, ice beading the glass, comes to mind, and a fat 19th-century novel that you’ll never actually finish but can drift into, and then let fall open on the grass, as you get lost (you’re in a hammock under a big shade tree) in a drift of clouds passing overhead, shaping and reshaping themselves.

When I read that paragraph, my first thought was that I want to go to there, to spend a lazy summer day with nothing on my agenda, except maybe a good book and a warm place to read it (perhaps my car).

I have no doubt that summer is by far my favorite season, and winter is my least favorite. Spring and fall are a toss-up. This is why when my wife and I retire, we want to move somewhere warm, so that we have more summer like days than we now have. Who wouldn’t want more days like Hampl describes above?

And since yesterday was the first day of summer, I tried to get my students into the summer spirit by playing the following video at the start of class; I hope it works for you too.

Best wishes for a happy, lazy, and enjoyable summer. Henry James would approve.

*image from McDonald’s India blog

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