June 9, 2008

Signs of Summer

I grew up in Texas. Summer was something to be savored even though it was - literally - hot enough to fry an egg on the street. And summer - not the true season according to the calendar but the overall experience - was long. It started in April and ran though the end of September. As a result of all that summer, there are lots of things that mean summer to me.

  • heat and humidity
  • tick tick tick of sprinklers shooting water over hot grass
  • low hum of lawnmowers' engines
  • water-like mirages of heat coming off the streets
  • the smell of chlorine and the accompanying sting in your eyes
  • sunburn and the smell of aloe and bactine
  • the coppery smell and taste of water fresh from the tap
  • hum of an ice cream maker being fed rock salt on the back porch
  • buzzes of cicadas interrupted only by the calls of grasshoppers who took over at dusk
  • sounds of the ice cream man's truck rambling through the streets
  • distant sounds of splashing and screaming coming from pools throughout the neighborhood
  • stubbed toes and skinned knees
  • the smell of grills, fired up and cooking hamburgers
  • the smell of beer on my dad's breath
  • absolute, complete exhaustion at the end of the day

For the first time since the weather turned warm, it's possible we actually spent more time outside than in. As it should be. On both Saturday and Sunday, we filled up Mia's little pool and chased each other through sprinklers. We were hot and wet and tired and filled up with energy as we were absorbing it directly from the sun. Or from the 3,402 popsicles we ate. And each evening we collapsed into heaps, utterly spent. It was a weekend that brought back almost all of my childhood memories of summer and I got to see them through Mia's eyes. And maybe even Owen's.

I got my first taste of unassisted solo parenting of two children. It didn't go nearly as badly as I'd expected. Sure, there was screaming but only on the part of the littlest Cactus. Not me. So that's a plus. We spent the majority of that morning - like the rest of the weekend - outside. Owen watched his big sister display her artistic talent for all the world to see using her sidewalk chalk. Then he got dragged through the sprinkler just like the rest of us.

This is a weekend that I'll look back on for a long time to come as one that truly defined summer. What kinds of things define summer for you?

Posted by Chris at June 9, 2008 6:23 AM

1)Ice cream truck music
2)Girls in bikinis
3)Taste of water through a garden hose

Posted by: Jeff A at June 9, 2008 7:56 AM

I'm like in the vast minority, I'm sure, in that I really don't care much for summer. It gets pretty humid here and I don't like that. I love that it stays lighter later, and I love being able to workout outside vs relying on the treadmill. Switching over to iced lattes from cappuccino for a few months is alright too...

BTW, are you following WWDC today...

Posted by: sarah at June 9, 2008 7:56 AM

Sunburns on days that don't seem like sunburn days... that's the start of summer anyway. :)

Posted by: Poppy at June 9, 2008 7:59 AM

How did you spend so much time outside? I thought it was so miserable this weekend and unbearable outside. Part of it was I did race for the Cure and then could not cool down from it.

Glad you survived the heat!

Posted by: jodifur at June 9, 2008 8:09 AM

My mom was either a part-time cashier or a school teacher for most of my childhood so I always think of the time she and I spent together in summers: picnics in the backyard, slip 'n' slide, bike rides, and gymnastics.

As I got older and moved here, one of the best parts about summer is the fireflies. I never saw them as a kid so sitting on my deck watching them light up all over my backyard is like this unfulfilled dream coming true.

Posted by: claire at June 9, 2008 8:30 AM

I love summer time - fresh berries smeared on faces is the biggest sign for me.

Posted by: Cass at June 9, 2008 9:09 AM

Summer is my favorite season:
1) grilling
2) longer days
3) fresh air (I hibernate most of the winter.)
4) ice cream truck music
5) baseball
6) cold pasta dishes
7) crickets

Posted by: Maria at June 9, 2008 9:27 AM

living in seattle it's a specialized list

1) when it stops raining for a week straight and it's above 55
2) the droves of pasty people that suddenly appear out of nowhere when the sun finally comes out
3) when it takes you an hour to drive the mile road to one of two beaches within city limits
4) when tourists outnumber locals at Pike Market and Seattle Center
5) though it's officially summer when any of the bars/restaurants start leaving their outdoor seating outside

curse this unseasonably cold weather. it's barely 50 degrees and it's June.

Posted by: Jared at June 9, 2008 9:40 AM

Our memories of summer are strikingly similar, senses-wise. I suppose that's to be expected, as I grew up in Oklahoma, a mere state away.

As I grow older, I'm beginning to associate other things with summer. Namely, DMB shows. It is really the only thing I look forward to and those sights and sounds and smells are becoming the key indicator of summer months. As disgusting as this list may sound, it really is quite pleasant to me and evokes some really incredible memories: grills, beer, smoke (cigarettes & pot), certain DMB songs that just scream summer (lately I've had Recently on repeat and I'm so stoked because they played it Friday night, which means we *could* see it in July), the thump-thump-thump of megawatt sound systems, smell of sunscreen & sweat, and Sublime (typically this is the house music at shows).


Posted by: Sparkle Pants at June 9, 2008 9:46 AM

Yes, I admit all the things you have mentioned are pleasant and wonderful etc. But I'm not really a big fan of summer. It's too damn hot.

Posted by: jessica at June 9, 2008 10:16 AM

I usually am not a big fan of summer, in that I don't do well with heat & humidity - I get all dizzy and pass-outy like BUT yesterday I promptly got the fuck over it and spent the entire day outside in the kiddie pool and on the slip and slide and it was FABULOUS! We finished off the day with a cook out in the pouring rain!

Posted by: Kris at June 9, 2008 10:24 AM

Things that define summer:

- "paletas", mexican ice pops
- aguas frescas, mexican fresh waters
- carne asada
- hamburgers
- water sprinklers
- hanging out at the beach

Posted by: varinia at June 9, 2008 11:18 AM

The smell of Coppertone sunscreen. I don't care how old I get, I can never use any other kind of sunscreen because it MUST have that Coppertone fragrance.

Posted by: donna at June 9, 2008 11:20 AM

being with my extended family and spending full days in the water at our lakehouse... before responsiblities entered our lives...
Your post today REALLY makes me look forward to my childs impending birth... 17 days to go!!!

Posted by: Stephanie at June 9, 2008 12:31 PM

Yay for your lovely weekend (and for letting Beth have a break).

I only like summer when I am near a body of water. It was 104 Friday on my way home. Celsius.

Posted by: Mymilabean at June 9, 2008 12:47 PM

I've heard and seen the ice cream man swinging through the neighborhood the last few days. That is one good memory. Some above already touched on it, but water through a garden hose.

Posted by: Rex at June 9, 2008 2:41 PM

To me:
- the sound of the ocean
- the taste of garden fresh summer corn and tomatoes
- the smells of freshly cut grass and burgers on the grill
- the sight of 100s of fireflies flitting outside my window at night
- the feel floating in a cool pool on a scorching day

Posted by: Kimberly at June 9, 2008 3:16 PM

Air conditioner running non-stop, high electric bills, days when the humidity can make you lose your breath and now the possibility of brown outs. Summer in Houston is officially in full swing. Can't wait for November.

Posted by: Shell at June 9, 2008 3:51 PM

Picking strawberries at the berry farm and then having them for dessert with vanilla ice cream. The smell of sunscreen and bug repellent. Sleeping in a tent and listening to the crickets after dark. The smell of tomato plants in the hot sun. Heat lighning on the horizon. Picnics with egg salad sandwiches and sliced cucumbers.

Yes, it's stinkin' hot here too, but I love summer. I'll love it even more when I can get rid of the algae and the frog in the pool and start swimming.

Posted by: alison at June 9, 2008 4:43 PM

I like winter better, so where do I live, California where there a hardly any seasons at all.
I grew up in River Forest IL. so summer to me is a lot like your list. I would like to add fire flies and mosquito bites.

Posted by: Peggy at June 9, 2008 4:43 PM

coppertone lotion, catching fireflies, the smell of the grill, long days at the park and going to be while it was still light outside.

Posted by: Tuesday at June 9, 2008 5:19 PM

The smell of sunscreen and the taste of countrytime lemonade.

Also, those red, white and blue popsicles.

Posted by: katie at June 9, 2008 5:37 PM

Superman ice cream.
It is SO NOT SUMMER until I have had superman ice cream...

Posted by: Cassandra at June 9, 2008 9:05 PM

all of those things on your list pretty much define summer for me too. all of that plus birthday presents, summer movies, and the smell of the ocean and sunscreen

Posted by: Denise at June 9, 2008 10:45 PM

I was born in Texas and we lived there until I was 7. West Texas

It was sandy, watermelons grew fabulous in our yard, and the ever present texas spider, the scorpion.

When we moved to small town Kansas it was summers riding our bikes endlessly around our neighborhood and to the grocery store to get stuff for our mom and getting a glass bottle of orange soda out of the machine.

Posted by: SarahS at June 9, 2008 11:42 PM

The sound of cicadas...the smell of frangipanis, bbq's, sunscreen the feeling of sand between the toes and the salty crust that the sea leaves on your skin. Eating outside at night under the stars with citronella candles burning away. Why is it you always want the opposite season to the one you are in? Summer, it hasn't been long but how I miss you.

Posted by: Beth at June 10, 2008 7:13 AM

Same. With the addition of walks and bike rides after dinner. In the winter it's too dark and cold for that sort of thing so late.

Posted by: Brad at June 10, 2008 10:48 AM

I grew up in Texas so most of your list is my list. I'll add the smell of Coppertone sunscreen, catching lightning bugs with my brother, eating cold watermelon with salt on it, sitting on a blanket on top of the hand-cranked ice cream maker, and getting the first spoonful of homemade peach ice cream off the dasher when my dad pulled it out of the canister.

Posted by: Kelley at June 10, 2008 12:15 PM

My list would be much the same as yours except for being in New Mexico.
I would add...being able to sleep over at Bama and Bampa's house on their covered porch with all the windows open (only in June).

And doing nothing..........

Posted by: kali at June 11, 2008 4:55 AM