We Have Come to our Reward (Summer!)
Summer always seems to elicit the pure and unimaginably euphoric. Perhaps this is embedded in stone because there is nothing more exciting than not being chained to some classroom five days per week and being forced to wake up as early as 6:00 in the morning. As an adult, however, I still wait patiently for the final arrival of summertime like a puppy waiting for his chew toy. It is undeniable that the unadulterated joys are somewhat polluted by the realities of the adult world, although the glimmers of childhood pleasures still have a way of poking themselves through like sun droplets dotting the holes of a colander.
There is just something liberating about being able to go outside early in the morning without having to scrape that film of ice from your car windshield. The pleasures of daylight are milked out past seven p.m. as the schoolchildren continue their festive dance until their bodies finally collapse in a state of sheer exhaustion. Town carnivals, seasonal ice cream shops, watermelon, and corn on the cob return like the perennial daffodils, too.
If we are going to dwell on the gorgeous pleasures of the summer months then we must also discuss the negatives just to be fair. For some reason, God or the powers of our universe found it necessary to create a useless plant that must defend itself using toxic oil that causes a blistering, itchy rash on our bodies for at least a solid week. As a small child, my idiotic neighbors moved away and did not arrange for a maintenance person to keep up with the yard work. The grass grew out of control, and it was always fun to play in it to search for cowering moths. All of a sudden, my mother and father demanded that I stop playing and showed me a frightening photograph on the cover of Times Magazine of a deer tick magnified thousands of times. A piece of summer fun had come to an abrupt halt because now I had to worry about a microscopic thing a little bigger than a period, which has the capacity to ruin someone’s life especially without early detection and treatment. Summer may also lead to romantic anguish because such connections may bloom easier with the nutrients of the sun and be destroyed just as quickly. One summer I won the interest of a beautiful woman from Poland who was working at a local camp, and the next summer she avoided me like a plague. I was curious whether it was something I had said during the entire calendar year of barely speaking to her and making an effort to “back off.”
There is a very wonderful thing about summer that was never possible during my childhood years. I never did win the student lottery in the sense that my summer vacation was augmented by the likes of a teacher’s strike or a brief tornado that caused a tree to crash into the school building. The party always came to an abrupt halt come the first Wednesday after Labor Day. The weather always became very warm again as is usually the case in September. This delayed ecstasy finally arrived the first summer after I had graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Something did not feel quite right even though it felt so darn good. I mean…that is one thing highly understood. It felt like I should still be back in some school building worrying about tests and forever battling the temptation of Procrastination. But I was still enjoying the beauty of summer while preparing for what I really wanted to do, which was hiking the Appalachian Trail a few months later.
Time always does fly, and this summer will once again fall between our fingers like grains of sand. But perhaps we could stall its disappearance ever so slightly by waking up a little bit earlier that day or watching a little less television. They say that a child never remembers their best day watching television. The same can be said for adults who choose to hold onto a little bit of summer nostalgia.