This morning, a glance at the calendar verified that today is the First Day of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere. That’s also when a verse from George Gershwin’s “Summertime” started repeating in my head.
And the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’
And the cotton is high”
I hear it with Billie Holiday on vocals but with a more big band style of accompaniment. What a great way to start the day and the season.This is a good omen, because I’m trying to regain the old fondness for summer I used to have.
Maybe it’s older age or practicality, but a creeping aversion to summertime has taken root in me. From late spring until the end of September, Eastern Nebraska can be hot and humid with some particularly violent thunderstorms. I still enjoy some thunderstorms, but not the ones with large hail and tornadoes. The aftermath of cleaning up puts a real damper on them.
The twin tornadoes of June 16, 2014 are still fairly fresh memories to the people of Pilger, Nebraska who witnessed their little village being nearly wiped off the map. The disaster took place about 20 miles from my home, so it was a local event.
It seems like there are more severe thunderstorms in the area now than in the past, but this is just a subjective evaluation. It could be a combination of needing to remove downed branches and twigs and more numerous trees in the yard. The cleanups require more physical effort these days, too.
With the advent of air conditioning and the Internet, Summer has become more or less a backdrop for daily life not the star of the show that it used to be. If there was no a/c or Web, the season had to be confronted directly. Even with modern conveniences, we still have oppressively long humid days when one wants to sleep to escape. If you’re smart you don’t siesta; that way you can get some semblance of sleep at night. The lack of air conditioning is still a reality for many people who should have it.
“We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.”- -Gary Zukav
I’ve taken some advice from the self-help guru Gary Zukav. That is, trying to practice equanimity towards each of the four seasons. For the most part, this is working out fairly well. As summer progresses, it will feel normal and I won’t dread it anymore. However, there will always be a personal preference for the icy, cold of wintertime.
For now, to commemorate the First Day of Summer, it’s time to find a version of Gershwin’s famous song to play on the stereo.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes pundit P.J. O’Rourke. “Supposedly, summer vacation happens because that’s when the kids are home from school, although having the kids home from school is no vacation. And supposedly the kids are home from school because of some vestigial throwback to our agricultural past.”