Savoring summer

IMG_2273I just can’t say it enough – I LOVE summer. Simply put, the season makes me happy. Maybe I should add a little caveat. What I really love is sunshine on my shoulders, temperatures above 70 degrees, and clear blue skies. Coincidentally, all of these qualities converge during the summertime for us here in Indiana.

By my estimation, we are only ankle-deep in summer. We’ve barely stepped our toe in the water, but all around me people are trying to bury summer or at least put one foot in its grave. All around me, doomsday comments abound so much so that I have begun to collect them. Just this week, I saw an event at a local pool advertised on Facebook. It read, “Summer is winding down. Enjoy every bit of what is left of it.” What? We’re just getting started here people. I am yet to get my whole body in the pool.

Kids know it is summer. Here is an exchange I overhead a couple of weeks ago while on vacation. A parent who was obviously unhappy with the upper 70-degree temperatures (They were perfect, I might add.) in upstate New York announced to her family, “We should come back here when it’s summer.”

One of her small children said, “It is summer.”

Mom replied, “You know. I mean REALLY summer.” What she meant was the kind of summer we have been experiencing here this week where temperatures are in the upper-80s and the air is thick and towel-dripping wet. Something tells me that she would not like that either.

These are the days I do not want to be inside. Just as I did when I was a kid on Monroe Street, I like to stay outside until the lightning bugs come out or until mosquitos nip at my ankles – whichever comes first. Then, and only then, will I succumb to the air conditioning.

Earlier this week the end-of-summer sale catalogs started arriving. One front cover declared, “Last days of summer sale – 40 percent off.” For the record, summer is not about over. Nor are we in the last days of summer. The local Farmers Market does not even have a steady supply of homegrown tomatoes yet. So, stop it with the end of summer commentary. I, for one, do not want it to end before it gets started.

For those keeping track, summer officially started on June 20. As of today, we are 25 days in. Like I said earlier, ankle-deep. Fall begins on September 22. That is 70 days from now. I should have told that to my neighbor, this week, when she reminded me that summer is over in four weeks. Summer will still be here, even though school starts in four weeks. But, I will keep the faith.

My wicker furniture will remain in the breezeway until the leaves change colors and rustle in the breeze. I will come in when the snow blows and forces me inside. I will sit in my breezeway, like I did earlier this week, so to hear the bees buzz as they bury their bodies deep inside the hostas to suck nectar from the lavender blossoms. I will listen for my mail carrier to meet her halfway across the front lawn as she delivers a package. Hopefully, one of these days, she will take me up on my offer of a cold bottle of water before someone else beats me to the punch. I will enjoy the sights, the sounds, and the simmering because I remember the freezing of February. On to day 26, enjoy every minute!

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Packing it up and packing it in

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Welcome to summer with a little riddle. What is something that should be easy for people and everyone has to do it if they want to escape? Those astute codebreakers answering, “Pack a suitcase,” win a fabulous prize to be determined at a later date. Thanks for playing along.

What a seemingly easy task – maybe easy for you, and you, and you over there. This is one of those times when I wish to be one of those people. Recently, I had to force myself to perform this dreaded-by-me task in order to enjoy a week away in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. Am I the only one who feels packing is a dirty word?

Whenever a vacation nears I dread the obvious question from anyone who knows I am headed out of town. “Are you packed yet,” they ask. The reason I fear the question is because my response always indicates failure. It is not like I have not thought about packing . . . a lot. In all honesty, prior to a trip, I overthink it. I yearn to be nonchalant about tossing a few days’ worth of clothes and shoes in a suitcase like my husband the road warrior. Give him five minutes and the mission is accomplished. He even prepackages his toiletries. Give me a break. When I pack, the task takes more time than binge-watching a season of “24.”

Maybe it’s a girl thing. We have more decisions to make, right? If pressed guys could schlepp along with one pair of shoes – maybe boat shoes, a.k.a. Top-Siders. They can wear them to the pool, or to the beach. They can dress them up. They can dress them down. They can bike in them. If pressed, I bet they can run in them. We girls need more than one pair of shoes just to get out of the door in the morning and then they must be coordinated to our outfits as well. Are you feeling my pain?

This was my thought process mid-week before departure. Number one, I don’t want to do this. Number two, I want to go on vacation. Realization, I have to do this. Reality, it is raining. What else can I do? Well, I actually made my bed first so I would have somewhere neat to lay my suitcase – a process also known as procrastination. Then, I realized there was some dust on my suitcase, so I walked downstairs, retrieved the hand-held sweeper and used the crevice tool in and around my dark green American Traveler. Then, I decided to walk downstairs to throw in a load of laundry because my swimsuit cover-up had a bouquet of sunscreen. Still procrastinating, I know. But, I was moving toward making some packing decisions. Baby steps, people.

The next step forward (to make myself feel more accomplished) was to ceremoniously place the case atop my quilt and slip two swimsuits into the zippered compartment underneath the case’s lid. Yes, inquiring minds, I started packing! Quit judging.

Finally, after two more loads of laundry, some ironing, and Weather Channel consulting, decisions could be made about which items would make the cut and those to be left behind. When my husband talked about long sleeves, I decided that if he needed sleeves, I would probably need pants, so I threw in a pair. I counted the days we would be gone and packed at least one outfit for each day (although this goes against all professional advice on over packing). To overturn this advice, I vowed to wear each outfit at least once during the week.

After all of these gyrations and justifications, I wonder how I ever packed two kids to go on vacation. Although, I have learned something from packing, you wear what you pack, so toss it all in and say fahgettaboudit in your best Brooklyn accent. Then, enjoy that carefree vacation even if packing is not. Happy summer.

(originally published 6-30-16)