The evening sun at Harvard Bridge.

Credit: Ryusuke Seto

Stay Mindful: Now More Than Ever

September 8, 2016

If there ever was a time to appreciate the concept of mindfulness—living in the moment—it’s now. Mindfulness, as pioneered by Harvard University's Herbert Benson and the University of Massachusetts Medical School's Jon Kabat-Zinn means “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment.” Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Center for Mindfulness points out, “You’re only here now; you’re only alive in this moment.”

You can’t be a procrastinator in New England. At least when it comes to summer. That’s never more apparent than now one week out from Labor Day. Was it just a couple of months ago when I was bracing myself against the nippy breezes of those raw spring days? For goodness sakes, I was still firing up my gas fireplace way into June. So when the temperatures finally soared, this southern woman soaked up as much of the wondrous heat as I could. I’m always pretty much the last one putting my winter clothes in storage, but I do not put off—even for a second—grabbing all the summer I can with both hands.

I know that means I should stop fretting about how little time I have and savor how many moments I still have to savor the warmth. Easier said than done for weather worriers.

No matter how many times I’ve done it, the four-seasons experience is a tough slog for me. I feel as though I suffer through three seasons just to get to the one I love. I’ve heard the dyed-in-the-wool Yankees dismiss areas of the West Coast and Southwest, and even the Caribbean, where daily sunshine and year-round warm weather is the norm. Too bland they say, too much sameness. But I’m seeing more and more local snowbirds fly the coop for warmer climes. No snow shovels for them. They stay away until there is no chance of a snow squall, flying back in time to join me on the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard.

I wish I could stop time and stretch my last days of sun worship. No matter how much I try to ignore the first annoying signs of fall—they have pushed themselves front and center of my consciousness. I’m distraught to see the leaves on the tree across the street fading from bright green and converting to red/gold. It’s too soon! And if that weren’t bad enough, the days are now noticeably shorter. No more luxuriating in the light until almost 9; these days I’m peering into the dusk hours earlier.

Nature has already delivered a rude reminder of chilly weather to come with a couple of days of temperature drops. Even as the temperature rebounds, I know not to be fooled by this temporary reprieve, what some call little summer. I don’t have time to mess around. Got to get outside. No one knows better than me that warm weather procrastinators have a lot to lose in New England.


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