Now, officially Summer doesn't end until September 22 this year--incidentally, my wife's birthday. But here in the States the unofficial end to summer is Labor Day, which is coming up this Monday, Sept. 3rd. And how do I plan to celebrate the close of the season? Well, with a small cookout of burgers and dogs at home. We don't have a back yard or anything, but we do have a George Foreman grill and a lot of imagination. And, hey, that does count for something, you know?
Actually, my animosity toward the season hasn't always been the case. It only really started once I graduated college. Before then, summers were great! Summertime was the bestest time, because it was the time of no school. Hooray! Remember that feeling? I don't care how good of a student you were, the minute that final bell of the school year rang, you WERE excited! Don't try to deny it. Summer was a time of idyllic days playing with your friends, and eating lots and lots of ice cream. Your family went on exciting trips, and you might have even visited a big amusement park or two along the way.
To be honest, I miss that. I miss it a lot. I was just walking through the little park across the street from the house I grew up in the other day, reminiscing of how I used to play baseball there with my brother and our friends during middle school summers. Even in the South Bronx, as dangerous a town as it was to grow up in, we still had a place to run around and be kids. For the most part the adults ignored us and the other kids in the neighborhood were either locked up or too busy getting in trouble elsewhere. So that park was OUR little spot. We owned it, insomuch as a bunch of 12- and 13-year old know-nothings could own anything, let alone a piece of public property. But what did we care about such things? We would meet there by the big ole Elm tree which served as home plate and backstop. My brother and I owned the bats and gloves, another friend the balls. Someone would inevitably bring a brown paper bag or an old baseball cap to serve as third base, while a natural flagstone served as first (a half-buried rusted pipe delineated our second). The pitcher's "mound" was a worn patch of earth where nothing natural grew, and we had to imagine the baselines in our heads. Yet to us kids this might as well have been our private Yankee Stadium! We would play from dawn to dusk--and I mean that literally! Sometimes, even, we would play when the sun was almost down and we could barely see the ball leave the pitcher's hand. We never let such small things as "facts" and "physics" worry us, though. We certainly never stopped for rain or thunder or 100+ degree heatwaves, neither.
|Summers were like this, except: less butterflies, more tetanus shots.|
I swear, many an epic battle was waged on that makeshift baseball field those summers! We would arrive home dirty and exhausted, ravenous like West Virginian coal miners after a long day of back-breaking labor. It made us robust, hearty--strong in that way of young men just growing into the semblance of their adult bodies. We were champions!
In-between baseball matches we would also go swimming at the nearby public pool, watch movies at the newly opened cineplex a few blocks further away, and play lots and lots of video games. Those were the best days to be so young and carefree!
Yes, walking through that park the other day reminded me of all this. I remembered what it was like to once love the season I so despise now. Nowadays, summers mean unbearable heat and long, unforgiving days at the office. It means daily runs that are that much more taxing on my body than they are in the winter, or meals that are made more quickly and with less effort than I would otherwise be willing to expend in a cooler kitchen. Summers are devoid of any exciting holidays, too. The months are long and monotonous, broken up only by the brief excitement of a quick vacation if we can afford it. Otherwise, it's three months of nothingness. Ninety-odd days of life-sapping commutes in foul, sweat-smelling subway cars back and forth to offices filled with people who are likewise missing those carefree summer days of childhood.
Is it no wonder I hate Summer so much? Good riddance, I say! I welcome Labor Day and the restart of the school season with open arms. My younger self would not recognize this new me, of course; this older me. But this older me loves the coming of Autumn and its cool, crisp days ahead. Days of apple picking and baked fruit pies. Of rustling multi-hued leaves and Halloween. Ahhhhh! I can smell the roasting pumpkin seeds already! Can you?
Here's to you, Summer time. May you be on your way and not show yourself 'round these parts for another nine months. I certainly won't miss you.
Sound off below in the comments section if you, too, are happy to be putting away your white pants and shorts for more somber hued clothing this weekend. Or if summer is actually your thing, let us know why you are so sad to see it going bye-bye. I would imagine those of you living in less urban and people-choked locations of the world than here in New York City would mourn the changing of the season more than most. Heck, if I lived in Vermont like I would love to again some day, I'd probably be singing a different tune myself.