Summer Village

by Shaun Hunter

Years ago, we would visit friends at their cabin on Sylvan Lake. Not far from the turnoff to their place, a sign told us we were entering a summer village. I’d never heard of such a thing before, but I liked the sound of it: a small community that comes together to savour a short, precious season.

This week in Calgary, we’re having classic summer weather: an unusual string of hot days and sultry evenings. I set up my work outside, spreading my books on the patio table. I’m allowing myself a mid-summer diversion from the work-in-progress on my desk: puzzling through W. G. Sebald’s Vertigo – a book I’ve been meaning to read for years, and recently finished.

Inspired by Sebald’s digressive prose, I wander through essays and interviews about his work, scribbling notes as I go. My attention moves the same way the bees do among the tall purple spikes of salvia in the garden. The weather is perfect for purposeful wandering. Inside, I check in with writing friends online. Some are working on manuscripts, others have organized retreats of their own making, reading slowly and closely, taking notes and figuring out how things work.

“There’s so much to learn, you know?” my friend Rea posted on her blog the other day. And there is. The summer village of writers is humming.