With temperatures rising this week, there was something different in the air. The parks were filled to the brim with everyone imaginable: children, running haphazardly, arms up and fingers grasping the warm air, a group of acoustic guitars strumming a little samba song into the soft breeze and endless blankets of liberated toes hugging the grass unbelievably tight, as if to say "I thought you'd never come."
This was the winter that tried us all with it's sucker punch blizzards and paralyzing cold. There's nothing quite like a one-two 48-inch slap in the face, and to be honest, I'm certain that everybody along the eastern seaboard will find relief in retiring "State of Emergency" as a legitimate phrase when talking about the weather. But if this was a year apart, what then really brings along the fairest of the seasons?
Growing up, the nearing summer of an American childhood was measured in a few ways. I believed that the lengthening of days was directly proportional to both the number of windows slid down on the school bus and the increased frequency of the familiar ice cream truck tune singing in the distance. The miles traveled by our four-wheeled gang of thieves before dusk more than doubled in the span of a month and was inversely related to the probability of wearing shoes at all. And the more delicious and sun-drenched it appeared outside that classroom window, the farther and farther I slipped away into a school of thought that didn't include a lick of mathematical life reasoning.
The signs changed as I get older. In high school, the closing bell signaled a mass exodus toward a parking lot filled with car tops and windows rolling down. The wild haired boys of teenage dreams would drive by, curls under faded hats flickering like the flames of the Fire Dancer sticker on the back of their cars. While the fall had been marked by huddling in cow pastures, bathed in wool sweaters, Bob Marley guitar covers and moonlight, summer signified a shedding of our winter skin and an appetite for hurling these fresh summer bodies into any body of water nearby. The nighttime sky was littered with the summer stars as our noses, shoulders and knees were also branded with new freckles from the daytime sun. Hair began to bleach out, we stopped vacuuming the first traces of sand in our cars, and Memorial Day gave us the high sign to officially cease brain function for the last 3 weeks of school.
I can't imagine that the average working adult hears the words "school's out for summer" and doesn't feel an ounce of heartbreak for those glorious long hot days gone by. Cubicles, office parks, and computer screens are no place for the summer-loving soul. We were meant for sunlight, for water, to feel the grass in our toes and sweat on our palms and be reminded of the fresh renewal of hope that only June can bring around.
It's still a few weeks away, but if anything, this week's sun teaser should ready your summer rebel cry. To dine alfresco, lightly, and appropriately, to reconnect with your aqueous side, and to remember to drink up every drop of the sun and warmth. After all, Mother Nature has made us more aware than ever that she's one multi-faceted broad. So enjoy her good side.