“She needed the sun to mellow and temper her mood to the sticking point.” – The Awakening, Kate Chopin
Summer is my favorite season for creative exploration. Fall is for thinking and working, winter for nesting and dreaming, spring for planning and awakening, and summer—summer is for relaxing and adventuring. This combination of playfulness and exploration seems to unlock something within. The veil between the current moment and memory seems thinner, more transparent, lending itself to glimpses of our childhood; our own current desire to slow down and enjoy, even if just for an afternoon; and sometimes it allows us to rediscover our inner wanderlust and desire to try new things. All of these elements come together to create a perfect season for tapping into our deep well of personal experiences for creative inspiration.
Last summer, inspired by a random childhood memory of bubble gum, I decided to revisit Big League Chew. It became a weekend mission to locate a pack of Big League Chew, which I was lucky to find down town at Walgreens. On the way back home, I opened the pouch and the scent of the powdered strings of gum, with its deep chemical purple color, transported me back to elementary school and the local 5&10 store C.W. Curry’s in Old Greenwich.
All this before I even put the gum in my mouth, which was its own time-travel experience. I was so excited by this endeavor that I enlisted my childhood partners-in-crime, my brother and sister, to do the same thing by the end of the week. This call to action, usually in the form of a text message, to hunt something down to remember it better, continued informally over the summer and was a point of much discussion of old and good memories. It also was a great source of details for stories that I was writing in my creative writing workshop that I take in the summer with Julia Thacker.
This summer, I thought that I would use the next eight weeks, the “dog days of summer” to invite all The Paper Compass readers to embark on Summer Challenges and share their experiences. I will post the challenge and then everyone can reply in the comment thread. You can speak of the memory, or the act of doing the challenge, or discuss a creative project that you may be inspired towards. Many of my memories were captured in my sketchbook or short writing assignments. I encourage you to do the same so that you can record the experience for future inspiration.
I hope that you will join us on this playful and creative exploration of the summer season.