Summer and I have not always seen eye to eye. There once was a time when summer rocked my world. I couldn’t get enough of the season. But somewhere along the line, summer lovin’ became summer hatin’ and we actually became enemies.
When I was a kid, summer and I were besties. I. Could. Not. Wait. Would count down the days until summer came beaming its sunshiny way in. Warm weather prompted wearing shorts and flip flops. No school. Sleeping in. Playing outside all day with neighborhood friends. Big family picnics. Lush green grass to sink into and run around in barefoot. Baseball games. Splashing in the cold creek. Bike rides coasting down hills with the wind rushing in your ears. And enjoying all the Kool-Aid you could drink and popsicles you could eat before they melted slithering down your arm leaving a sticky trail. And if you were lucky and Dad could swing the time off and extra money, maybe even going on a family vacation to someplace you’d never been before. Staying outside until long after dark playing hide and seek and catching lightning bugs in glass jars or lying on the cool, evening dewy grass staring at the smattering of shiny stars lighting up the velvety nighttime sky.
Back then, what wasn’t there to love about summer? Yes, summer was my best friend and it dismayed me to watch it depart.
Fast forward to my teen years. Summer and I were still best buds. No school. Sleeping in. Hanging out at the pool all day with your friends with the transistor radio blaring the popular music of the day. The smell of Coppertone and baby oil while toasting in the sun trying to acquire that sun-kissed tan on fair, freckled skin. Long, uninterrupted daydreaming in a hammock under the shade of the apple trees while discussing love, guys, and futures with a best friend. Loading up the car with a group of girlfriends and taking in the drive-in movies after the sun set or joining up with friends at summer carnivals, boarding the thrill rides and screaming your lungs out until you were dizzy with excitement while bright lights glowing in the dark spun around you. Staying up reading your latest favorite book until the wee hours of the morning when all the neighborhood lights were out and nothing could be heard through the open window but crickets and an occasional dog bark.
Summer, how I loved you and you were still my favorite season of the year.
“The summer night is like a perfection of thought.” ~Wallace Stevens
Even after jobs and marriage, summertime’s allure still beckoned. Summer brought time off. Picnics and bar-b-ques. Adventures with family and friends. And lounging by the pool, still chasing that elusive summer bronze.
By the time our twosome became a family of five, I beheld summer through the eyes of my children. Raising our three, we eagerly awaited summer’s appearance. No school. Exploring. Playing outside all day. Neighborhood block parties. Baseball games. Sleep-overs. Wet swimsuits and towels hanging on the deck to dry. And if you were lucky, a vacation might include a trip to the beach, soaking up sunshine, sand, and salt water. Teaching little ones how to ride a bike and how to catch a firefly in the dark. Showing them how to find the North Star and the Big Dipper and listening to crickets chirping. Falling asleep after a long day of mothering to the white noise whirring of a fan in the window bringing welcomed cool breezes.
“Then followed that beautiful season… Summer….
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
But then came the rift. Either summer was changing or I was. Summer became a weary chore. A long seemingly endless ordeal of scorching, sweltering days that no amount of ice water or air conditioning could quench and even longer, stifling, muggy nights when sleep couldn’t be found while air was so thick with humidity, the oppressiveness made me gasp for any hint of comforting relief.
Summer seemed relentless and monotonous and the heat caused me to feel like I would literally burst into spontaneous combustion. No longer did I look forward to summer, I dreaded it. I counted the days till its demise and scoured the weather channel for signs that it would soon depart and my misery would cease.
“Heat, ma’am! it was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones.” ~ Sydney Smith, Lady Holland’s Memoir
So summer and I became enemies in my mid-life years. I couldn’t wait until summer was shoved out of the way by autumn’s cooling ways. “Bring on the snow,” I would retort. “I’m ready for winter.”
Summer, that once loved, slower season of relaxation fell from favor faster than plummeting temperatures in the middle of January. In the ranking of seasons, it came in dead last and stayed there.
Until this summer. Summer is attempting to lure me in again. This is the first summer in many years that I have not had a job to rush off to or major work projects to complete. This is the first summer in quite some time that the temperature has hovered near 80 for the most part or lower. Nights have been relatively cool and the whirring of my window fan instead of my once-overworked air conditioning maintains good sleeping weather for me .
The yard is covered with lush, green grass, not yet browning or withering away in scorching sun like most summers. Flowers are in abundance as is the produce from the garden. Our summer fare has included lots of rainy days but pleasant sunny ones as well. I’ve been able to throw open the windows and breathe good, fresh clean air and enjoy being outdoors in daytime hours without wilting from smothering heat and humidity. And last night while talking with Papa, I confessed this thought that has been rumbling around in my brain for weeks now: “If summers were always like this one, I might love summer again.”
Yes, something is changing. I just don’t know if it’s summer or me.
“People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.”
~ Anton Chekhov