Tag: summer

The Last Day of School

Today is the last day of school for the Little Man before the summer begins. The Little Miss and the Little Miss finished up school a week ago, and the Littlest Miss a week before that. Thinking about the last days of school has put me in mind my own last days of school.

It wasn’t the last day of school that I remember looking forward to. It was the first day of summer. My fondest memories of last days at school was in fourth and fifth grades when I lived in New England. The days always seem bright, clear, and warm. You could feel summer in the air. The last days at the elementary school I attended were half-days, and they were not spent in the classroom. We split our time between the playgrounds outdoors, and the gym.

The school was surrounded by wooded areas with a big field on one side, and a large paved area in between. There were several areas with playground equipment, and several other areas where we would play tag. I remember an excitement in the air. School was over and the summer was beginning. As a nine or ten year old, summer seemed to stretch out forever and the next school year was the vaguest blur on the horizon.

In the gym, we watched movies, and I seem to recall there being snacks offered, popcorn and other sweets. I have vague memories of one particular movie we saw, but not enough to identify it. I do remember enjoying it.

Summer meant being able to sleep in a bit, but I think we wanted to get out an play with our friends. These were the days before personal devices of any kind. There was cable, and a few friends had Atari consoles. MTV was the biggest draw, but we were more interested in getting outside.

Later, when we moved to L.A., the last day of school brought on similar emotions. We’d fall into a routine of watching a few TV shows in the morning before finally striking out with our friends to find whatever adventures awaited. We’d watch reruns of The Love Boat or The Dukes of Hazzard. Occasionally, I remember watching reruns of Flipper. Then we’d be out and enjoying the summer.

I lived in the moment back then, far more than I am capable of doing today. I never thought about the coming school year. I rarely thought about the next day. Summer was each day unto itself, and the next day was an entirely new summer. There were plenty of moments of boredom, but looking back on it, I am grateful for that boredom. It is where my mind would wander.

My last real summer vacation was the summer after tenth grade. After that, I was old enough to begin working, and I spent my summers working, first in a stationary store, then in a local pharmacy. There was still time to play, still time to hang out with friends, but work was an obligation, like school, and it took the shine off my summers. I haven’t had a summer off since.

With my retirement now about ten years away, I have started to think of my last day of work the way I used to think of my last day of school. I think it would be fitting to retire sometime in mid-to-late June. It would be very much like the last day of school, and for the first time in more than forty years, I’d have an entire summer spread about before me, each day its own mini-summer, ready to explore.

First summer rains

Last night we had the first major rains of the summer and it was really pleasant. It has cooled down enough to allow me to turn off the AC and sleep with my bedroom windows open, and last night, I was lulled to sleep by the sounds of the rain. The rain got steadily heavier through the night until this morning, just before I got up, it was a torrential downpour, accompanied by lightning (but, strangely, no thunder).

With a full month of summer remaining, I found that I missed the rain, and the cool air that accompanied it. I have another day or so to enjoy it. It’s supposed to get back up into the 90s later in the week.

Summer showers

Summer showers are a phenomenon that, for me, are exclusive to the East Coast, and I had my first one last night. A summer shower, you see, is like a regular shower with one added element at the end.

Okay, so you get into the shower on a hot and muggy evening. You wash your hair, you shave, you wash yourself. At this point you are normally finished. I can do this shower in less than 3 minutes if I skip the shaving part.

During a summer shower, however, after you are all cleaned up, you gradually cut off the hot water, easing it back a little at a time so that the water gets cooler and cooler until it is fairly cold. This is just the most awesome thing during the summer when it’s hot and humid. It sucks the humidity right out of the air and it leaves you feeling cool and refreshed alive! And it only seems to work in the summer on those days were the humidity is creeping up into the range of the temperature.

Like last night.

Summer is here!

June 21 is the first day of summer in 2007. Summer is here!

When I was a kid, the delineation between spring and summer was much less abstract. It was the day after the last day of school. It was spring and you signed yearbooks and said goodbye to teachers and homework and papers and tests. And then the next day, you woke up, having slept in late, with the sun suddenly warmer in your face, and it was summer! Three whole months without school!

As I got a little older I had a job in the summers (and after school as well) and things started to change, but I look back on those pre-employment summers fondly, as I am sure most people do. Summer mornings were often marked by sleeping in late (until 9 AM!), eating breakfast and then watching a few reruns of shows like Leave It To Beaver, The Dukes of Hazzard, or The Love Boat. Afterward, there were touch football games, tossing around a baseball, and the general interplay of muscle and sinew one would expect from boys at that age.

Sometimes, we’d go to New York for a portion of the summer to stay with our grandparents and that was always a treat. There was a Ray Bradbury-esque quality to those summers: the humidity of the New York air (as compared to Los Angeles); the dinners our grandmother would make us; Carvel ice cream after dinner; fireflies; road trips to Cooperstown and the Catskill Game Farm; Howes Cavern; drives to New Hampshire and into New York City; going to the movies on a rainy day.

I’m not sure we realize how much we really give up when we leave that world and enter the work force. We have to study more and more in high school to prepare for college. In college we have to work hard and that work often consumes the summers, which are somehow not quite the same anyway. After graduating from college, we find a job and we work at it and work at it and the notion of “summer” loses its meaning. Sure, it still gets hot and thunderstorms still rumble through the night. But gone are the late Tuesday mornings. Gone is the time to watch Dukes of Hazzard reruns. Summer becomes just a warmer version of winter, a vicious cycle with no end in sight. Oh, we make take off a week or two and get away somewhere. But what is a week compared to the ten or twelve weeks of summer that we used to get?

This year may be a little different for me–a rare step backward into those lost summers. I am taking of the entire month of July for my vacation–a true sabbatical. Four weeks is not three months, but it is four times longer than a week. I am traveling through 7 countries in Europe, not to mention visiting with friends and family. It is a long enough time to forget about work for a while and focus on what we always focused on back in those halcyon days: having fun. We knew that at some point, far in the future, school lingered, but it was no sword of Damocles. There can be no such thing during the summer.

It may well be my last “summer” in the adolescent sense, for who knows when and if I will get 4 weeks off again. There is retirement, of course, but even that is different. I can’t imagine summers being the same when you have the entire year off. When the entire year seems like summer, it seems as though it loses something.

So I plan on making the most of this abbreviated, but nonetheless traditional summer vacation. When I am back at school work after the vacation is over, I hope to report that it was my best summer vacation ever.

Summer’s coming…

I can always tell when summer is coming because my schedule starts to get filled with all sorts of visitors and/or travel. Cases in point:

1. This weekend, I’ll have company for the long Memorial Day weekend.
2. The following weekend (June 2-4), Dad will be in town for the Orioles/Yankees game.
3. June 8-12 Doug will be in town for the Cooperstown trip.
4. June 16 I am attending Rich’s “black tie” graduation dinner.
5. June 29-30 I will be in Pittsburgh for a project.
6. June 30-July 4 I will be in NYC helping jen_ashlock and Jason move into their new place.
7. July 21-24 I may in L.A. visiting friends
8. July 29-31 Dad is back in town for another Orioles game.
9. August 11-13 I will be in New York for a Yankees game

And that’s what I know about so far.