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Summer Memories

Summer Memories

In the winter, those who live in colder climates dream of the warmth of summer. So many of our memories as children, as young adults, revolve around this season of warmth and relaxation.

Summer is alive with fireflies and fireworks. It is the promise of vacations to come; the whisper of waves caressing the shore. It is camping in the wilderness, or in the backyard. It is s’mores and pup tents, barbecues and campfires. Summer lives in our memories as a kind of paradise that we return to again and again as we get older.

Every summer is different but some things don’t change. The weather gets warmer, the girls wear less, and the kids get out of school. Summer is a time of events, from family vacations to outdoor concerts to blockbuster movies. Summer is the realm of Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker and Captain Jack Sparrow.

Summer is a time of bittersweet romance, of passionate flings and seasonal crushes. The magic of summer is punctuated by the hum of cicadas and the soft breezes of the evening. It is enveloped in a blanket of warm rain and the rumble of distant thunder. It is the magic of love’s first kiss and the thrill of holding hands on the roller coaster. It is walks in the moonlight and the smell of jasmine and honeysuckle.

It is the season of theme parks, visits to Disney World or Cedar Point, or a regional park like Lake Canobie, Holiday World or Kennywood. It’s the first visit to Six Flags, or that excitement of the first ride on the latest thrill ride at Alton Towers. It is reacquainting ourselves with the Coney Island Cyclone, or the Master Blaster at Schlitterbahn.

It is a season of water parks, swimming pools and lazy rivers. It is floating in an inner tube downstream, feeling the sun warm our faces as the sound of the breeze ruffling the grass and trees on the banks of the river fill us with contentment. It is a time when we take our time; summer is so rarely in a hurry.

The food of summer is also unique unto itself. It is hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, candy apples and cotton candy. It is fresh corn on the cob, potato salad and clambakes. It is ice cold beer and lemonade. It is peanuts and Cracker Jack at the baseball game, Lager and Lime at the soccer pitch. It is the freshness of cold watermelon on a hot day.

Summer is Wimbledon at the tennis courts, the U.S. Open in golf. It is pickup basketball games, and the Tour de France. NASCAR rules the summer months, as does Formula 1 racing.

We go fishing in the summer, with little or no expectation of catching anything other than a few hours of peace and quiet. We walk in the park in the summer, except here in Florida when we escape to the air conditioning, but even that’s not so true – it is also when South Beach flourishes and the attractions are packed with tourists.

My own memory is filled with an eternal summer of floating in our backyard swimming pool, the wind ruffling the chimes in the tea house. I fondly recall eating Dodger dogs at Chavez Ravine and rooting my beloved Dodgers to victory over the hated Giants. I remember camping in my backyard with Chris Maas, my dad taking all of us to Dairy Queen for soft serve ice cream and letting us stay up late to watch Star Trek when that was on at 10pm on a Friday night.

I remember driving to San Felipe in Mexico in a caravan of motor homes (yes, a caravan of caravans to my English and Aussie readers) with several families, including the Maas family. We camped on the shore next to the beach and watched the tide recede every day a tremendous distance. At night the adults would drink beer by a campfire while we kids would shoot off firecrackers from the bluff that overlooked the beach. When the moon rose, it would shimmer on the waters of the Sea of Cortes.

My summers were filled with the scent of wet summer grass and summer school field trips, of dining outside and going to the drive-in movies (my dad preferred the drive-ins because he could smoke while he was watching the movie). The long, long days that seemed to never end, and the warm nights that cooled us from the heat of the day.

As I grew older, my summers changed. Summers became hanging out at places like the Cactus Club in San Jose, sweating in the cramped interior and listening to the loud music of indie rock fill the nights. There were still theme parks, but now it was roller coasters and thrill rides that caught my attention instead of the kiddy rides of my youth. I hung out with my friends, drinking beer and barbecuing. We’d talk about sports and girls, the two things that occupy the minds of most young men. We were far more knowledgeable about sports than girls, although we didn’t know it at the time.

The summers of my memory are a kindly time. These days, I have a different appreciation of summer. I live now in the Orlando area, where summers can be much more brutal than the summers of my California. The heat and humidity drive people indoors where they stay in climate controlled air conditioning, hunkering down during the heat only to emerge at night when the temperatures are bearable. Here, summer is a time of afternoon thunderstorms that roll in around 3pm and stay only 45 minutes or so, with a ferocity of thunder and lightning and a downpour of rain. Those storms also make the heat less intense.

Summers are the makers of memories. While autumn is my favorite time of year, summer is next for me. So many of my fondest memories are painted in the hues of summer, from my childhood in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California, to my young adulthood in San Jose, and of course now in my home of Apopka. Even though I’m aware that the summer heat can be trying, I still look forward to it every year; from the big-budget movies to the baseball All-Star game to the Fourth of July, summer has its charms and its magic that weave its way from the dream-like depths of our memories to the thrill of anticipation of our next summer adventure. I wish you all a summer of fond memories that will light up your winter imagination.


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