Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language. – Henry James
Is there any time of year filled with more variety and wonderfulness than summer? As much as I love spring and fall, and even tolerate winter passably well, summer’s delights seem nearly endless to me. Morning, noon, and night, fair weather and foul, all bring their own special moments to appreciate and celebrate. Not only the summers of today, but the summers of all our yesterdays can bring broad smiles of childhood memories if we let them.
Popsicles. How long has it been since you enjoyed the chilly pleasure of a cherry Popsicle? There’s no question that they’re harder to find than in days gone by, but on a blazing August day, seeking out a Popsicle will be worth the effort.
All the great greens. Without a second thought, people say, “trees are green,” or “the grass is green,” and it’s true, they are. But holy smokes, imagine you are Edouard Manet or Claude Monet striving to recreate a scene. You’ll see the greens of your scene to be practically infinite. The glowing green that appears when the sun backlights leaves is my favorite.
Thunder and lightning. When thunderstorms aren’t destructive, they’re an awesome entertainment to behold – especially if you have a covered porch from which to enjoy the show. CRAACK! KABOOM!
Long days. With summer weather comes summer daylight. More than 15 hours of it at the Summer Solstice, and even in August we are treated to about 14 hours of outdoor playtime.
Flowers. Although winter oppresses us with very low sunshine, long nights and a nearly monochromatic world of gray, brown, white and black, summer comes to our rescue as every neighborhood blooms with annuals and perennials in a joyful riot of color across the entire spectrum.
Swim suits, sun dresses and shorts. Oh yeah! It’s almost as though people were flowers themselves as the warm weather inspires a blossoming of loveliness all around and reveals beauty that was too-long concealed within cloaks, coats, parkas and scarves.
School’s out! Parents may not delight in this summer truth, but kids surely do. And if parents thought back to their own childhoods, they would remember the delicious anticipation of “The Last Day of School” and the freedom and fantasies it invoked.
Saratoga Race Track. School may not be out for parents, but Capital Region adults have their own anticipation to look forward to in August. The colorful silks, the magnificent thoroughbreds, and at nearly 150 years of age, the oldest organized sporting venue in the US. And I think betting goes on there, too.
Corn on the cob. Oh, glory, oh yum, talk about delicious anticipation! Not to mention fresh, ripe, real local tomatoes and other fresh veggies at roadside stands and farmers’ markets. Juicy Peaches! Melons! Berries! If only the season weren’t so fleeting.
Independence Day. Okay, it’s already gone by for this year, but it’s still one of summers wonderfuls. So perfectly named that I wish we could forego the more common “Fourth of July.” Maybe it’s the history buff in me, but I love remembering the courageous men who declared us “to be Free and Independent States, … Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown.” Now, that’s a reason for fireworks!
The Beach. Whether you’re at Grafton, Lake George, Sacandaga, or farther flung on a beach on Cape Cod, the Jersey Shore, Long Island or wherever, there is absolutely nothing like the beach. Laughing people, happy people, shrieks of delight, sand castles, kite flying, young women and men strutting their stuff while pretending not to, and the cool, wonderful water buoying body and spirit.
Lemonade, lemon ice, iced tea. As much as I enjoy a cold microbrew, I don’t think there is anything as refreshing on a hot, humid summer’s day as these three exhilarating chillers. A bottle of cold water and tea bags heating in the sunshine makes the smoothest iced tea, and this year I’ve taken to making lemonade with actual lemons. Oh boy, am I glad I did. Try an “Arnold Palmer” with half ice tea and half lemonade.
Crickets and fireflies. Does anything declare summer in session more vividly than a night filled with merry fireflies and chirping crickets? So much so that I think the soundtrack of every movie or play depicting a summer evening echoes with crickets. Whether you call them fireflies, lightning bugs, star flies, or as our 17-month old granddaughter recently christened them, “shiny bugs,” they are a gleeful summer wonderful.
Ferns. Our front yard is heavily shaded, so several years ago my wife and I planted ivy and ferns. Now every year I anxiously await the sprouting of the fiddleheads and later the wide splaying of the beautiful ferns and their graceful breeze ballet. Yes, I think they can dance.
Raindrops on roses, and ice cream stands open, sailing and boating and camping and fishing. Barbecues sizzling with bratwurst and wings; these are a few of my favorite things.
“A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.” – James Dent
Ed. Lange writes “Guy Stuff” monthly for Capital Region Living. He may be reached at email@example.com