Wednesday, June 21, 2023
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Summer. I mean it’s summer.
No more pencils, no more books.
My favorite season, not least of all because I get to stop being cold for five minutes and actually enjoy being warm. Nay, hot!
The vast population is perfectly fine being cold but comes to a screeching halt the minute the temperature hits 80.
I say… crank it up!
At 80 I’m just getting started. 80 is when I can sit somewhere without a sweater. 80 is hang out on the balcony or walk in the park weather.
I say… bring on 90. Bring on 107, as long as it’s in Arizona.
Do you know what’s cool about being Arizona-hot? It really is dry, which is far more pleasant than being Tennessee-hot when every stray hair sticking out of your face gets drenched in sweat-glue.
I learned something during many years working for an HVAC client. Your AC can only lower the indoor temperature about 20 degrees, more or less, from the outdoor temperature.
So if it’s 95 degrees out there is no way you’re going to walk into a frigid 65 degree restaurant. Hallelujah!
You can imagine how that works out in Arizona. For me, it works out spectacularly because it means I can go out to dinner in a short sleeved shirt and still be able to feel my fingers.
My electric bill is fabulously low in summer, because while all the other nutcases lock themselves in their rooms full of canned air, I open the windows and enjoy the heat.
Nothing feels better than summer sun on your skin. It has a whole different quality from other seasons, an intensity that makes it a tangible thing.
Nothing feels better than a summer evening when the heat lingers in the air like a blanket.
Summer is for being languid.
For sitting on the porch, for drinking iced tea out of glasses dripping with condensation.
Ice cream. Summer is ice cream.
Specifically, racing against the melt, because it’s so hot that rivulets of chocolate sprinkles are trickling down your arms so you have to lean over and let it drip onto the sidewalk while you shovel it into your face at high speed.
Can you drink iced tea and eat ice cream during other times of the year? Sure. But it’s not the same.
Summer is also about funnel cakes, because those came with the fairs. Every summer growing up the local firehouse would have it’s fair. Sometime in July it would roll into town with boxes full of ferris wheel and roller coaster pieces, assemble everything in about five minutes, then charge you five bucks a ride to get knocked about a bit.
It was spectacular.
You threw beanbags at milk bottles for a while, spun wheels of fortune, scoped out the cute boys, then rounded it out with cotton candy.
For much of my childhood, summer meant the beach. It meant the carousel at Asbury Park and sandcastles and did I mention ice cream?
In my adult life, the one thing I never did during summer? Go to the beach.
I lived within a few miles of the shore for the better part of 20 years but by that point it had become a tourist nightmare. Ralph and I got used to doing things on weekdays then staying home on weekends because who needs to use up precious time off battling crowds and traffic?
Once, I don’t remember where we were going, but we ended up accidentally driving in the direction of the shore and it took us an hour… an HOUR… to make it one mile to the next exit so we could escape and go home.
I don’t think we left the house for two years after that.
The trauma is real.
I love summer because for most of my life not-summer WAS the trauma. School was never a thing I loved, even before it sucked.
Here is what I remember about school: crying. I should save this for the back to school blog but it’s important to understand not-summer before you can understand summer.
I remember my mother dropping me off to first grade and me crying but having to stand there in my classroom at St. Frances of Rome and pray the morning prayers, and then I’d go home and report back to her the extent of the crying. I’d get very proud of myself for only crying through the first Hail Mary.
Nothing terrible happened in school. I did well enough, in spite of my penny-subtracting affliction. But school never resonated with me. Not the uniforms, not the routine, not the sitting at desks, not the jumping rope on the playground.
I had a home and things that were mine, and for most of my life brothers, so why did I need this square cinderblock cell of scotch-taped alphabet letters?
Anyway, that was School Trauma Little-T. Then when we moved and the bullying started, it was School Trauma Big-T.
But this is not that blog. This is the summer blog, because summer meant the end to all that.
Summer = freedom.
I think if I had to sum up my love for summer it would be that simple.
Summer is when you get to be free.
It hardly matters that one season is as good as another when you’re six hundred years old like I am now, because I’m going to get up and work and water the plants the same way I did last season.
But it’s hard to shake that stuff. It gets imprinted in your brain early and hard. So does it matter that it’s not MY school bus that stops showing up outside the front door for a few months?
No. I am as glad as ever that those yellow monstrous exhaust-spewing beasts are gone.
Does it matter that I don’t get two months off without homework anymore?
No. Because it still FEELS like I have no homework.
Summer is about bike riding and backyard tents. It’s about sweating profusely in those tents because they are plastic and there is no airflow but you are no way nope not going back in the house. You’ve got your flashlight and your snacks, you’re staying.
I have always been a bit bent out of shape that my birthday is at the end of August. It was much too close to back-to-school for my liking, so I was always torn between that feeling of yay, birthday! And crap, birthday.
Also I could never have a birthday party with friends because everyone was on vacation or busy and besides, when your birthday fell during the school year you got to hand out invitations to the whole class. When your birthday is in the summer, there is no any class.
In the absence of a party full of my classmates, my parents went all out for my birthday. Balloons, cake, presents, barbecues, and enough relatives that forget a class, we could have had our own circus. And often did. Figuratively, of course.
I had fantastic birthdays, and the one or three kids I actually liked and kept in touch with over the summer would come, so I can’t say I didn’t enjoy my birthday. I did.
Which made the end of summer and back to school even worse, because who needs a cinderblock cell with taped up alphabet letters when you have a backyard of relatives and grilled burgers and badminton?
But this is not that blog.
Summer is swimming at the lake and learning to dive for the first time even though I spluttered and choked across the pool to get back to the edge where I could hang on for dear life then catch my breath and climb up and do it again.
Summer is not minding if you get caught in the rain because it’s a nice reprieve anyway and you can splank through puddles in your bare feet.
Summer IS bare feet. Barefoot on the grass and on the hot sand and ouch ouch ouching your way down the asphalt driveway to the mailbox but refusing to put shoes on because it’s summer.
For the sake of this blog I conducted a very scientific survey. I surveyed five out of five brothers and said this:
Give me one word that means “summer” to you.
The fun thing about science is that you never know quite how it will turn out.
One brother said “Playland.” This was an excellent answer, as Playland was second only to the firehouse fair in the amount of funnel cake consumed.
One brother said “warmth.” We both like the 80 degree porch.
Another brother said “warmth” (I’m seeing a trend here) but followed that up with a two minute voice text explaining how it really depends on where you are, and whether you’re in California or New York, or if you live in Antarctica.
Another brother said “pool fireworks heat happy.” Clearly this brother could not count pennies either.
My final brother said…
This is my kindred spirit.
Photo: an iconic Asbury Park clown. This one was restored but the original clown is still there, faded, and perfect. Sadly I could not find a photo of it.