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Dear Summer,

Dear, Sweet Summer,

I realize I could simply tell you this, just feel it in my heart and you’ll know. But I’m compelled to make it more formal. To put text on a computer screen. Then type on newsprint.

It’s more proper this way, I believe. More official. More “on the record.”

And I want this to be on the record:

Summer, I love you. I’ve missed you. And I am delighted to see you back.

I know. I know. I should not be so surprised you’re here. For all 69 years of my life you’ve appeared when you were supposed to. Maybe not right on cue. Maybe not fast enough to suit me. But you always show up, sooner or later, and always have.

I’d like to say the elation I feel, not to mention the sheer relief, on that first 78-degree day is born out of respect, out of never wanting to take you for granted. But it’s not that noble. The truth is, I doubt you. Year in, year out, I fear you may let me down. May take a year off.

I know what you’re thinking: and I call myself an optimist? I do, generally. But my optimism, I confess, fades in the dead of winter. It’s hard to find under a blanket of snow, hard to conjure up when scraping ice from a windshield.

I’m not proud of this, Summer. I hope you can forgive me.

It appears, however, you already have, for here you are again, smiling at me in the form of a bright morning sun, awakening me with a cardinal’s singing, caressing me with a warm afternoon breeze.

Yes, I’ve been noticing the roses in full bloom climbing up the arbor on the side of the house. Nice touch. And, yes, we’ve been to quite a few nurseries and garden centers. They’re all bustling. We love being part of it. Waiting in line at a supermarket might be a pain, but not at a garden center, with your arms full of flowers.

I hope it doesn’t sound shallow, but one of the things I love about you, Summer, is you always show up with gifts. Flowers, and ice cream (yes, we’ve already begun our regular visits to Blue Ribbon Farm Dairy Ice Cream Bar and will be showing our faces regularly at Ballyhoo), and locally grown fruits and berries right around the corner, soon to be followed by sweet corn and backyard tomatoes.

I also love how you never cease to bring out the best in me. Winter is not my friend. It leads me to large quantities of carb-laden comfort food, big bowls of chili with half a loaf of Italian bread for dipping. But not you, Summer. You set the table with crisp, colorful greens, picked that very morning, juicy cucumbers, firm in their freshness, and of course, those tomatoes for which we’ve become famous. The food you bring is light, Summer. And it makes me light-hearted.

Yes, you tempt me with hot dogs on the grill, blueberry pies, and ice-cold beers, and I make no effort whatsoever to resist. But you also get me moving, Summer. You beckon me outside to walk amongst nature, with overhanging trees providing natural air conditioning, or just around the neighborhood, with people on their porches with whom to pass the time of day. You have me cutting the grass on a regular basis, which puts a smile on my face that shoveling snow rarely does.

I want to look my best for you, too, Summer, and I must say you are a big help with this. Mostly because of the sun, that glorious, high-in-the-sky, Vitamin D showering sun. Gone are the days when I’d look for any excuse to take off my shirt, but still I believe I look better suntanned than not. At the least, I feel better. I’ll take a sunburn over a windburn, a peeling nose over chapped lips, any day.

Summer, I even find endearing what some might call your faults. Like the warm rain that’s falling as I write this. A summer rain makes my grass lush and green. Its winter counterpart makes my roads slick and treacherous. Winter’s icy winds chase me indoors. A summer thunderstorm draws me to the porch to marvel at the lightning, provided it’s far enough away.

Now that you’re back, Summer, everything seems right. I have ice in my coffee, flip-flops on my feet, the sunroof open and a song in my heart. Often “In the Summertime,” (what else?) by Mungo Jerry.

And, Summer, if come Christmas you should spy me joyful and laughing, do not be concerned. I’m not cheating on you. Just making the best of things until we are together again.

Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist every week. Look for his blogs online during the week at pittstonprogress.com.