Summer is here!

June 21 is the first day of summer in 2007. Summer is here!

When I was a kid, the delineation between spring and summer was much less abstract. It was the day after the last day of school. It was spring and you signed yearbooks and said goodbye to teachers and homework and papers and tests. And then the next day, you woke up, having slept in late, with the sun suddenly warmer in your face, and it was summer! Three whole months without school!

As I got a little older I had a job in the summers (and after school as well) and things started to change, but I look back on those pre-employment summers fondly, as I am sure most people do. Summer mornings were often marked by sleeping in late (until 9 AM!), eating breakfast and then watching a few reruns of shows like Leave It To Beaver, The Dukes of Hazzard, or The Love Boat. Afterward, there were touch football games, tossing around a baseball, and the general interplay of muscle and sinew one would expect from boys at that age.

Sometimes, we’d go to New York for a portion of the summer to stay with our grandparents and that was always a treat. There was a Ray Bradbury-esque quality to those summers: the humidity of the New York air (as compared to Los Angeles); the dinners our grandmother would make us; Carvel ice cream after dinner; fireflies; road trips to Cooperstown and the Catskill Game Farm; Howes Cavern; drives to New Hampshire and into New York City; going to the movies on a rainy day.

I’m not sure we realize how much we really give up when we leave that world and enter the work force. We have to study more and more in high school to prepare for college. In college we have to work hard and that work often consumes the summers, which are somehow not quite the same anyway. After graduating from college, we find a job and we work at it and work at it and the notion of “summer” loses its meaning. Sure, it still gets hot and thunderstorms still rumble through the night. But gone are the late Tuesday mornings. Gone is the time to watch Dukes of Hazzard reruns. Summer becomes just a warmer version of winter, a vicious cycle with no end in sight. Oh, we make take off a week or two and get away somewhere. But what is a week compared to the ten or twelve weeks of summer that we used to get?

This year may be a little different for me–a rare step backward into those lost summers. I am taking of the entire month of July for my vacation–a true sabbatical. Four weeks is not three months, but it is four times longer than a week. I am traveling through 7 countries in Europe, not to mention visiting with friends and family. It is a long enough time to forget about work for a while and focus on what we always focused on back in those halcyon days: having fun. We knew that at some point, far in the future, school lingered, but it was no sword of Damocles. There can be no such thing during the summer.

It may well be my last “summer” in the adolescent sense, for who knows when and if I will get 4 weeks off again. There is retirement, of course, but even that is different. I can’t imagine summers being the same when you have the entire year off. When the entire year seems like summer, it seems as though it loses something.

So I plan on making the most of this abbreviated, but nonetheless traditional summer vacation. When I am back at school work after the vacation is over, I hope to report that it was my best summer vacation ever.