I thought it would be auspicious to write my first blog on the first day of Summer 2010. By this time next year I’ll have published my first book in more than a decade, MONDAY IS ONE DAY, illustrated by Julian Hector. It’s a book about counting the days of the week with a child you love until you can spend the whole day together. So in that spirit of counting down, here are ten things I love about summer:
1) The happy shrieks of my six year old son and the neighbor kids playing in a sprinkler. The slick massage of wet grass on bare feet. Late afternoon sun making vitamin D in my forearm skin, as I sit on the back porch supervising.
2) How an elementary school packs its bags for summer vacation; the walls of classrooms yielding up their art projects. The air warm and still, each of the last dismissals a rehearsal for the BIG one that comes in just A FEW DAYS.
3) The upholstered rocking chair on the porch of my parents’ home, that once belonged to my great uncle Morris, but which somehow seemed custom made for my body. I could sit and read in that chair for hours, cooled by the breezes off the Peconic Bay that came in through jalousied windows. It was quiet in that open room, in that chair. The quiet of a nearly empty summer house. Just the springs of the rocker, and the sound of the deep-gong wind chimes my brother brought back from Peru and hung from a thick wooden beam. In the distance, a motor boat pulling water-skiers. Laughter blown up from the beach. A diet coke in a glass sweating on the tile floor next to me.
4) Bad Summer Movies. Bad summer movies gone to with a group of friends. A burger before hand. Popcorn during. Ice cream afterward. The heat-and-salt-and-sunscreen smell coming off everyone’s skin and cooling in the refrigerated air of the theater.
5) The publishing tradition of “half-day Fridays” which allows for the illusion that there IS still such a thing as a summer break, even though deadlines and schedules and work pressure presses on relentlessly, unmoved by one’s memory of relief.
6) The clean, brisk smell of central air conditioning in my parents’ house…. how you could walk in from the intense heat and humidity of a June day, a final exam behind you…you could turn the brass handle on that wine-red door, hear the whoosh as it opened (I could swear the sound of it was “safe!”) and the BANG as the screen door slammed behind you; then you were instantly surrounded by relief. Cool air. Quiet.
7) Gazpacho. Ice-cold gazpacho, and not the kind that’s lukewarm and doesn’t know if it really wants to be tomato soup.
8) Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. For me, a tennis player, summer is bookended by these two great tennis tournaments; an excuse for binge-watching and shouting at ESPN while they show every point of a boring match in which Andy Roddick is killing some over-matched opponent, but don’t’ show a stroke of the incredibly exciting women’s match happening two courts over.
9) My weekend reunion with my college buddies on the Jersey Shore, which is basically 48 hours of non-stop gabbing extended over other activities: stocking up on provisions (48 diet cokes, bags of chips, Ben&Jerry’s, and everything else), taking walks along the shell-sharp beach, sitting in a semi-circle staring at the horizon, drinking strong coffee, getting dressed up, going out to dinner, having an argument about something inconsequential that gets blown out of proportion, laughing about it.
10) Late summer afternoons on my block, with kids running around across the lawns in their own variations of tag, adults standing around talking, happy to be there, to be outside, in each other’s company. Grateful to be home in time to see each other in daylight. Grateful for summer.
What are you all appreciating?