I think it’s almost fitting that the first day of summer falls on the hottest day of the year. There’s nothing that makes you look forward to summer more than a heat wave that falls on the last few days of spring. Most heat waves I recall seem to occur in the dog days of summer instead of the very beginning. I don’t think I am going to let it ruin my excitement for summer, though. Maybe if we get the heat wave out of the way early, the rest of summer will be, no pun intended, a breeze.
Summer means different things to us as we get older. We adults do not have the benefit of almost three months of free time with no responsibility. We still have to go to work every day, getting up early and slugging away all day at the office and maybe get a few days away with the family. We still have meetings and conferences and carpools and rush hour. There are deadlines and projects and customers and clients. In the midst of all this, you might find a moment, a moment where you recall all that you took for granted so many years ago.
It might be that first moment of your last day of the school year, when you burst from the doors of the school and ran at the speed of light for the school bus and the final ride home of the semester. You and your friends would be raucous and loud and even the school bus driver would be happy and less inclined to tell you to simmer down, because for the bus driver, it was the last day of school as well. You’d get home, run for your bedroom and put on shorts and a T-shirt and call your best friend and both of you would know you could hang out for a long while because, though a week night, it was not a school night.
It could be that moment when you are sitting on the porch, with a glass of lemonade your mom made, with real lemon and sugar and not from a mix. It’s maybe a little too sweet, but that’s okay because that’s how Mom makes it because her mom made it that way. It’s still a little warm from being made, because sugar won’t dissolve in cold water. There is that uneasy blend of warm and cold when the lemonade splashes over the ice cubes before hitting your lips. You don’t want to drink it too fast, but there’s a little more where that one came from, so Mom isn’t too concerned about it going to waste. You sit there and think about everything you are going to do that summer while watching a squadron of fireflies across the yard, appearing just as the sun dips in the sky.
It’s that first crush, in the summer after eighth grade. You remember the one. The one who met you every day at the same time, at the same place and you sat talking about this and that and once in a while, you would both reach for something at the same time and your fingers would brush against theirs and you would wonder what it would be like if you just had the nerve to reach out and hold their hand. You’d share one of those 10-cent popsicles. You remember, the kind with two sticks that you would split in half and share with your best friend or someone a little more special. By summer’s end, you’d be holding hands and talking about who loved who and would forever hold the secret of that one kiss by the creek. The kiss that wasn’t really planned, but happened because you both were at the right place at the right time and swore not to tell another living soul, pinkie swear.
Mostly, though, it’s about that one special day. Everyone had one. It was that day when everything aligned and all was well in the world and you had “The Best Day Ever” with your friends and that summertime love. In the middle of the day, it seemed as if the day would never end. By dinner time, you had to take a break and eat with your family, but you ran back outside before Mom had the dishes off the table. The sun would set and all of you would try to eke the last sliver of that perfect day before darkness fell. The night sky would be ablaze with orange at the horizon, softening to green, a deep blue and, above your head, dark as midnight and adorned with a million stars. One of which you would wish on for just another perfect day like this one.
Today is the beginning of summer. There is still room for a perfect day. Today was not it, but the season is young. My wife just made some lemonade and is calling me in from the porch.
Baltimore native Joe Weaver is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.