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Why the Joyful New England Summer is so Precious

Thousands of people at the Newport Folk Festival in RI

Thousands of people, loving the sun and sounds at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island.

Yesterday was the first day of Fall, the Autumnal Equinox. And for myself and hundreds of other people who knew and loved a remarkable man named Kolajo Afolabi, yesterday was also a fall from innocence into deep grief as our dear, dear friend fell while running and passed away from the resulting injuries.

Sliding along the surf at Narragansett Beach, Rhode Island.

Sliding along the surf at Narragansett Beach, Rhode Island.

To celebrate our friend’s life, a life of warmth, contribution, love, and joy, I invite you to gaze at these photos of New England summer, and to ask yourself: “Why is the New England summer so precious?”

2011 was a summer I almost didn’t notice if it hadn’t been for another friend.

This whole July, my friend Meg who was visiting from California was trying to get me to slow down and enjoy the wonder of New England in summer. Meg and our friend Emma dragged me to the beach in Rhode Island and to the Folk Festival in Newport, took us into the icily refreshing sapphire-colored ocean, and sat us on creaking beach chairs to hear the guitars and singing in the steamy Newport air. We slurped Dell’s iced Lemonade and felt the warm sand under our beach towels.

The day we swam at Narragansett Beach was the most perfect beach day imaginable.

The day we swam at Narragansett Beach was the most perfect beach day imaginable.

But I was so busy, working full time for a web start-up company, and gearing up for travel to China! It was painfully hard to relax and actually enjoy the amazingness that is loving friendship, and New England in summer. The sun was burning hot, and piles of work emails were accumulating in my Inbox, far from the beach and music.

Boats lined the water outside the Newport Folk Festival to listen.

Boats lined the water outside the Newport Folk Festival to listen.

Looking back at these New England Summer 2011 photos, so bursting with life, humanity, and natural beauty, I am deeply thankful to my friend Meg for helping us see it.

Tomorrow, my beloved friend Marleny and I will travel to Rhode Island for Kolajo’s memorial service. Hundreds and hundreds of people who also loved our friend will be there, and we will cry, support each other, and remember.

The New England summer is so precious because of how brief and alive it is.

May we always appreciate it, while it is here.

A magically stunning swimming grotto in Jamestown, Rhode Island.

A magical swimming grotto in Jamestown, Rhode Island this summer.

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