Friday, April 20, 2018
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Dead Solid Summer


It is with a gleeful relief we embrace Independence Day. Because this marks the beginning of dead solid summer. The Fourth of July is a red white and blue arrow to the bulls- eye of patriotism when we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of our country by packing together in crowds, drinking a lot of beer and blowing stuff up real good.

That’s the thing about summer; it’s loud. Fireworks and motorcycles and outdoor concerts and lifeguards on bullhorns and calliopes. Marching bands for crum’s sake. The siren song of the ice cream truck interrupting the high- pitched shrieks of kids in pools and families at the gates of overbooked flights.
Summer heightens the other senses as well. Lemonade so tart it makes your tonsils pucker. The flash of the Stars and Stripes woven through spokes of fleets of bicycles passing a beauty queen waving a rhinestone wand from the back of a convertible. Eating corn on the cob and letting the butter slide right down your arm to drip off your elbow. Having sand caught in the pasty- colored folds of flesh that winter clothing has concealed for 8 months.
Summer is the tinny mantra of a baseball game squawking out of a speaker of an AM radio while barefoot at a barbecue eating potato salad that’s been left out in the sun all day. Sweating like a stuck pig and waving brooms at mosquitoes the size of footstools. Ducking stray Frisbees while setting picnic tables with plastic utensils. The benign tyranny of a new swimsuit.
And summer is supposed to be fun. Which can cause a kind of forced march frenzy of anxiety as we become so determined to have a good time we need a vacation to recover from our vacation. How many times have you heard… “Damn it, we’re going to have a good time if it kills us.”
All the meteorologists claim that summer begins at the solstice, which is defined by when the sun takes its most northerly path across the sky. From the Latin for “stand still.” The point at which the days neither lengthen nor shorten. In other words, when time stands still.
That may be the astronomical beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, but it is much less of a fixed date, and more of a state of mind. One that begins when the bell rings for the last class on the final day of incarceration and continues until the sun sets the night before the fall semester begins.
Between now and the MLB All Star Game (The Midsummer Classic); this is the heart of the season. When trips to distant attractions are driven and family reunions attended and sunburns acquired and roller coasters ridden. And then before you know it, in the blink of an eye, Christmas songs are playing on the radio.
So, savor this brief respite we call summer. Relax. Saunter. Ramble. Gallivant. Meander. For no apparent reason drag a stick along the ground as you walk. Skip stones and fly pinwheels and stay cool and dry and vertical. Or hot and wet and horizontal. Whichever works. Happy 239th birthday America. And you know what; in the right light you don’t look a day over 225.

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