Friday, July 31, 2015

In the good old summertime

Hot enough for you?
Our brief sojourn in the midwest
reminded us both of how blessed
we are to live in Montana. With
no humidity our summers are
glorious. A few steamy days aside -
we rarely need to turn on the air
conditioner to chill out. Even if
some days may hit the nineties -
every night the air turns crisp and
sinks into the fifties. Therefore as
long as you are willing to open you
mind and windows, one's personal
climate zone remains temperate.

Fresh air
In cities like Dallas or Manhattan, one
easily forgets the benefits of breathing
fresh air. Most city folks live and work
in hermetically sealed spaces. Beyond
their commute said climate controlled
isolation has abolished the communal
camaraderie that was always a part of
summer. In days of yore we all opened
our inner sanctums in order to beat the
heat. Thus for a few months we heard
and saw more of our neighbors than as
we did the balance of the year. Today
few if any live or work out in the open.

Do you hear what I hear?
Here in Montana we still enjoy the
sounds of summer. The tinkling of
ice cubes in a cocktail. The mumble
of your neighbor's television drifting
through a window. Lilting laugher
breaking the sound barrier as friends
dine al fresco. Or over hearing proof
that some are not as happily married
as we thought. In most other climes
many prefer to chill with their peeps
inside rather than face the heat. And
somehow... our wonderful season of
collective intimacy has faded away.

What bugs me?
As a boy, certain sounds signaled the
beginning and end of every summer.
Their symbiotic serenade were always
the perfect accompaniment to a game
of hide and seek at dusk. "Ready or
not - here I come!" For some reason
I never hear crickets in Lewistown
nor do I catch the croak of a frog or
hum of a cicada. That's probably due
to the surrounding rancher's liberal
applications of Roundup. Or maybe
said creatures are naturally not local
phenomena. No matter, I miss them!

Grill n' chill
Remember summer suppers? Whether
due to increased humidity or a brief
lowering of our standards - the hot
weather motivated even my mother
to let her hair down. All of a sudden
societal constraints were loosened.
Rather than traditional fare we dined
on chilled aspics, garden lettuce, ripe
tomatoes stuffed with chicken salad,
burgers off the grill, and huge slices
of watermelon. In essence we lived
like we were on a perpetual vacation.
And as I recall, the living was easy!

A summer place
People of certain circumstances used
to cool their heels far away from the
sweltering city Memorial thru Labor
Day. While Dad toiled at a hot desk,
it was women and children first on
the beach. Every Friday the faithful
hopped a train to join their families.
For others relational rules loosened
along with their girdles. By the end
of each summer everybody returned
back to town a bit wiser and tanner.
And like Tom and Daisy Buchanan,
all was forgotten and... forgiven.

Home security
For those who stayed close to home,
one did whatever it took to survive
the summer. Awnings kept the sun's
rays at bay. Furniture was sheathed in
light and floral slip covers to protect
against sweaty residue. Some rolled
up their carpets and replaced them
with sisal mats. During daylight all
windows were closed, curtains drawn.
Post sunset - everything was flung
open so that the house could air out.
Each day said ritual was repeated
until finally, autumn's chill arrived.

Gone but not forgotten
Most of summer's past rituals are
no longer necessary. We now live
a non-seasonal life. Therefore we
have no reason to live differently
simply because it's hot out there.
Have all of summer's pleasures
vanished? While not nostalgic for
sweat - I do miss summer nights
spent sitting on a stoop catching
fire flies in a jar. The summer of
our discontent is still out there.
All we have to do is step outside
and catch it while we still can!