During the hot humid days of summer, I love to escape into the shade of our woods. Katydid whirs, buzzing bees and bird songs serenade the sticky air. The earth slowly bakes in the sunshine. But deep within my woods the oppressive heat is slightly broken, the air less dense.

I descend into our ravine. Huge mossy boulders sporadically dot the descent, remnants of a giant’s game of marbles from ancient days. They are soft resting spots for a short break to pray and write in my journal. A mother fox warns her cubs in a high pitched throaty yelp that an intruder is encroaching. She is somewhere close but I cannot see her. Get in your den, kids! Danger alert!

The bottom of our ravine is a tangle of blackberry thickets and tall ferns. I hop from rock to rock along the dry creek bed that runs along the length of it. Quartz rocks sparkle as they catch the sunlight.

I stop to sit on a bench along the trail. I lie back onto the wooden planks and gaze up through the leafy canopy above me. Sun glows bright green through the swaying leaves. Dappled sunlight paints the mossy floor. The sky is hazy and dull. The blue of summer skies is never as brilliant as in the fall, as if the hot sun burns away all the color. A timid breeze feels rapturous on my sweaty neck and back. A fly buzzes around my head.

Summer woods are all green and brown and placid. The rush of spring activity has now slowed to a sluggish stupor. I encounter no more slithering snakes or foraging chipmunks during my afternoon prayer walks. The heat forces everything into stillness. All is in quiet conservation mode to stave off heat stroke, minimize the sweat production. Hot summer afternoons were meant to be sleepy.

The invent of air conditioning has allowed us to push on through the sweltering days oblivious to the scorching melt outdoors. We hurry from air conditioned building to air conditioned car to air conditioned building, quickly retreating from the uncomfortable furnace blast that hits our ill-adapted bodies between our artificially cooled interiors. We can be so much more productive now!

But how wonderful it is to leave all that busy-ness behind and stop to sit on a mossy rock in the woods on a lazy summer afternoon. How perfect to embrace the stillness, make peace with the sog of a sweaty tee shirt, and breathe deeply in the musty dirt smell of the summer woods.