Summertime thoughts are generally about lazy days, staying cool, and finding somewhere to hide out.
At least it seems like it’s always been that way for me. When I was a kid, the only people I knew that went to summer school were generally there because they were failing their classes and had to catch up or be held back a grade. Summertime thoughts for the rest of us were not really the kind that was focused on accomplishing much.
In my neighborhood, summer days were spent running wild in the woods until it was time to get home for dinner – although we never were much into watch wearing and often got in trouble for being late, go figure. I will finally admit that it was my idea to dam the creek so we could catch crawdads, and we truly had no idea that upstream backyards would be flooded because of it.
If it was a rainy day, we either all piled into someone’s garage, usually ours, or we hung out on various carports – most working parents were smart and forbid the pack of us to actually go inside unsupervised, drawing the line and saving us all a lot of grief, most likely.
How the light gets in…
We spent our time begging hapless parents who had the day off, or worked part time, to take us places – the pool, the movies, the mall, anything and anywhere that qualified as a bonafide change of scenery. By this point – mid July, our summertime thoughts had started to turn to complete boredom and I think secretly many of us were looking forward to getting back to school.
The excruciating boredom began to creep in, and within a couple more weeks, it would have all of the kids in the neighborhood in its grip. I was pretty lucky most years; I went to summer camp, the sleep away kind, for two weeks each year. On the last couple of nights at camp each year, my friends and I would make tearful promises by the campfire of how we would write every day, and how we intended to beg our parents to let us visit over the winter.
While those sorts of reunion plans don’t usually work out, I can say that my high school best friend and I “met” a few years before we ever laid eyes on each other; our distinctive styles of graffiti on the cabin walls (encouraged as expression, not forbidden as a nuisance, by the staff!) over the course of a few years where we attended different sessions had given us an introduction like no other.
The joys of reading are fine and plentiful.
We were fortunate enough in my neighborhood to be visited every two weeks by the Bookmobile that our county library operated. My dad got me my first library card when I was 6 or so, and I graduated to the adult books section by the time I was 9 or 10, but there were no adult books in the bookmobile, so it was pretty much catch as catch can. The driver was always amazed that I would check out 15 books, and even more amazed that I was finished with them after the first week, that they wouldn’t last me two weeks.
When my friends went on their family vacations, I would hole up in my air conditioned (thank goodness) house and devour those books, along with a supplemental supply from the main library branch where I went with my dad. He was also a voracious reader and it was something of an adventure to make the trek over to the main branch, since it was a half hour from our house. But it was huge, full of books, and while he sometimes questioned my choices, he never stopped me from reading anything.
Time to go back to school already.
By the time the first of August rolled around, me and the rest of the kid posse were ready to head back to school. Too much cake is also bad for you, and that much unstructured free time would eventually cause us to start looking more like the Lord of the Flies than Amazons & Swallows, if the truth be told.
We were all pretty sick and tired of each other, and only each other, by then. There are only so many ways to amuse a bunch of kids and eventually those ways all turned into something that was going to get someone in trouble, no doubt about it.
Now that I’m an adult, or rather have been an adult for many years, I still have trouble distinguishing between summer and summer vacation. I find it hard to focus in the summer, and very difficult to stay on track. I’m not sure if it’s the weather, the ingrained inclination towards slacking off during “summer vacation” or the simple fact that my brain can only stand working hard for so long at a go before it goes into shutdown mode.
Or maybe we all need a bit of disconnect from the nose to the grindstone that is most our daily lives. Our business does not run itself, and as much as we’ve automated, scheduled, and streamlined, it still requires a guiding hand or it tends to slack off, no matter what time of the year.
Quite the conundrum to find oneself in, just before the dog days of summer really kick in.