Monday, July 19, 2004

Lazy Hazy Days of Summer

Summer finally arrived this weekend. The long, hot, humid kind. We only get a few weeks of this in Minnesota in a typical summer, but having been born and raised a wee bit south of this state, to me this weather marks real summer, and the rest of the days the calendar demarks as "summer" are either prologue or denoument.

The hours from just after dawn until sometime after dinner are uncomfortably warm for me. There's a reason I moved north to settle down as an adult, rather than to the sun belt. But the evenings are especially terrific, if a tad buggy. I can sit outdoors as the sun sets, have a cigar and enjoy myself utterly. People in Florida or Arizona likely have no appreciation for how glorious that can feel when contrasted to the long-bitter winter which is always in the back of your mind as you enjoy the unusual pleasure of going outdoors without a coat.

Interestingly, I've never really been a "summer" person. My favorite season is fall, followed by spring (the latter part of spring to be specific). But what would those seasons be with no summer in between? I need summer. It's good for me. Like bran, or calcium, or reading serious news.

About that news. I just can't get motivated by much of it lately. Oh, I'm reading most of the same things I usually do, just not as often lately. My tolerance for it seems to be ebbing pretty low. After a short stint of browsing, I'm done. Election year burnout? I don't think that's it.

I suppose on a deep level, I'd rather not think about many of the weighty issues of the day at all right now. I don't want to argue about ideology nearly as much as compare favorite beers, or talk about which wine would go best with dinner. I want to sit out on the deck and try to blow smoke rings in those moments when the breeze takes a pause. I want to set off leftover fireworks and watch my kids look on in awe and cheer like crazy, even though each one is pretty much the same. I want to watch my tomato plants grow to monstrous size, and tease me by loading up with green fruit that never seems to ripen - and then overwhelm me with a happy flood.

I think what I'm getting at is that this is summer. And my mind simply won't let me treat it like any other season. Summer is a time for summer things. And if politics insists upon intruding, it ought to have the decency to bring along some fireworks and bratwurst.

There will be time for all the rest soon enough. It promises to be a nasty election year in which basic civility goes out the window, with every guilty party blaming the other guys for doing it first. We'll all feel insulted and cheated in some way by the end.

So I invite those so inclined to join me in sitting back, enjoying summer, and giving the rest a bit of a vacation for now. Pay more attention to the breeze off the lake than the foul-wind emanating from the editorial pages of the New York Times. Watch your kids play in the pool with more attention than you watch Peter Jennings somberly read the news. And don't get provoked into spending too much time on things which can be just as easily undertaken this fall.

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