According to the calendar, summer started officially on June 21 at 1:16 p.m. Eastern Time. However, I didn’t notice at all because it’s been HOT here for months now. National Geographic tells me that June 21 was also the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere as well as the summer solstice, which is a result of the earth’s north-south axis being tilted 23.4 degrees relative to the sun. This tilt causes different amounts of sunlight to reach different regions of the planet. Now all that information is fascinating, but the crux of the matter is that it’s agonizingly hot and dry here where I live. We are a mere eighteen days into the summer season. Can I possibly survive all the pleasures of summer, which doesn’t end until Friday, September 23? That sounds like light years from now. Besides, we all know the heat doesn’t evaporate from Georgia air in September. It could be November. Maybe summer would slip by more quickly if I enjoyed its various pleasures more.
Even at the risk of antagonizing most of my readers, I have to admit that I am not a beach person, and one trip to any beach every few years sufficiently fills my innate beach requirement. Sand on my feet or any other part of my body, for that matter, irritates me. I don’t like salt water lingering on my skin either. I further suspect that the sight of me in a bathing suit distresses other beach goers. My skin burns easily, and even the strongest sun screens do not protect me completely. Invariably, I come away burned and grouchy. Occasionally the pleas of the grandchildren lure me to some beach, and I enjoy my time with them, but unprompted, I’d never choose to vacation there. Beaches are beautiful, but if you don’t mind, I’ll just admire them from afar-maybe even on television.
I do enjoy swimming, but I prefer the crystal clear waters of a pool or even the dirty waters of Lake Mayers, if the little boys are with me. We can and do sometimes spend hours playing in the water, and then more hours washing the lake dirt from our skin. The experience is well worth the effort.
I’ve already expounded recently on the demon gnats and other assorted insects that torture me during the hot months. Then there’s poison ivy, which thrives amid my flowers and lies in wait for my unsuspecting fingers. These devils fill my nightmares.
Many of the aspects of summer are wonderful and provide it with some saving graces. Juicy ripe watermelons, fragrant cantaloupes, and all the fresh vegetables come with summer, as do the flowers that I love so much. I’m having trouble writing right now because the dinner-plate sized sunflowers outside the window are nodding to me on the breeze. At their feet the penny winkles (vinca) stand at attention and call to me. Truly they are delightful. As I stare at them, I remember an elderly neighbor who in the past visited my flowers on a regular basis. She called the flowers penny winkles. They were her favorites. We’d stand in the heat, admiring them, and talking gardening, one flower lover to another. She’s gone now, but when I look at my periwinkles, I see her face.
Summer seems to bring leisure, too, perhaps because the heat traps me in the house with my books. Effortlessly I can slip into my easy chair with a good book and a cup of coffee to read the hours away. I wish I could lie in my hammock out under the oak tree, but I’d prefer not to fight the bugs for the space. Instead I stay with the air conditioner. Even Bentley, the eternal ball chaser, soon returns willingly to the house and the cool air. A tennis ball cannot compete with cool air. He’s a smart dog. If anyone is moving fast, he’s probably trying to escape the heat.
Nonetheless, complaining does little good, so I might just as well go to the library, get a stack of books, and settle in for the long haul. It’s only July, and September seems a long, long time away. Perpetual summer is here yet again.