Summer is my favorite season. Having been raised in Houston, Texas could likely explain this fact. Texas summers are characterized by humidity and thunderstorms, whose afternoon occurrences are so certain most of the day is spent outside in anxious anticipation of their cooling relief as thick, grey clouds ominously approach. My mother claims that one summer I spent so much time outdoors barefoot that I returned to school the next year having forgotten how to tie my shoes.
Seasons are one of the arbitrary ways we choose to mark the passage of time. Ecclesiastes teaches parables through their passing. Vivaldi composed music about them. John Keats wrote stanzas. Seasons are especially salient in teaching as years are measured in quartile chunks. Fall. Winter. Spring.
But this summer is different. All summers, henceforth, will be different. Patrick died in the season that is undoubtedly the most carefree, the sunniest, the sweetest, the time of year I used to spend eating ice pops on a curb in Houston. Patrick was killed during my favorite season. The sun was shining. The sky was blue.
I recently saw Lee Krasner's painting "The Seasons" on display at the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. Until then, I didn't realize that Krasner was Jackson Pollock's partner. Yet I was most struck by the description accompanying Krasner's work:
This monumental painting offered Krasner an outlet during a time of deep personal sorrow. The year before, her husband, and fellow artist Jackson Pollock, had died in a car accident. In the wake of the sudden loss, Krasner remarked about The Seasons, "the question came up whether one would continue painting at all, and I guess this was my answer."
In light of last summer's events, I've often asked myself, "Will I keep painting?"
Like Krasner, I guess this journey represents my answer.
Our trip is set to begin within a day of Patrick's death last year, and those first few pedal strokes in Alaska will be the first brushstrokes of what will be a beautiful tribute to a beautiful man's life. It's a stake to reclaim summer as a time of possibility, as a season of hope.
This summer, the grey clouds are approaching, but I'm not afraid. I'm riding on.