The summer of 2022 will begin this coming Tuesday while most of us are still sleeping – arriving quietly in the Northern Hemisphere at 5:14 EDT. The summer solstice occurs when one of earth’s poles reaches its maximum tilt toward the sun.
Summertime is one of those seasons that elicits all kinds of emotion, including joy, happiness, serenity, and plenty of nostalgia.
“Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language,” wrote Henry James, the American-born British writer.
But why? Why does summer rise above the rest for so many of us?
Could it be that it’s during summer that most of us become our best selves, slowing down to sit in the sun, playing ball in the backyard or visiting with family and loved ones over a barbeque at the lake? Maybe it has something to do with fewer meetings, no carpooling, less appointments, lazier mornings and even long stretches of vacation.
Many of us love summer so much because of the memories the season holds. We can still see the sand and surf, the wiffle ball games and the pile of bicycles outside our friend’s homes. It’s our own version of the “Wonder Years” – a frozen season of time we appreciate more the farther away we get from it.
“Growing up happens in a heartbeat,” said Kevin Arnold. “One day you’re in diapers, the next day you’re gone. But the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a place, a town, a house like other houses, a yard like a lot of other yards, on a street like a lot of other streets. And the thing is — after all these years — I still look back, with wonder.”
What fills you with wonder about your childhood summers?
I think about a cool swimming pool on hot days, the sweet aroma of charcoal burning on my father’s backyard hibachi, playing stickball with my friends against St. Christopher’s school wall, the library’s reading club, Carvel and Friendly’s ice cream – and long car rides on family vacations to Maine. I also remember being bored. But boredom can be a good thing. We built go-carts, threw water balloons and watched the Price is Right.
When you’re a kid, you don’t think much about the passage of time, except for wishing life would pass more quickly. I recall wanting to be tall enough to drive the bumper cars at Rye Playland and the rocket slide at Oceanside Pool. Then I wanted to be old enough for Little League and Boy Scouts – and a driver’s license. You’re always reaching for something beyond your grasp.
Now that I’m a parent, I’m acutely aware how quickly time and childhood summers actually go.
When we adopted our first son and brought him home from Edmond, Oklahoma on a hot August day back in 2005, I remember looking forward to the summers to come. Eighteen years seemed like a long time then, but now I almost cry thinking about quickly they’ve rolled by. Kids want time to speed up and most parents wish it would slow down.
I remember Country Time Lemonade used to run a radio ad stressing the brevity of summer. On average, it’s just 96 days. The announcer was really just echoing Shakespeare who wrote, “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” A slow and relaxed voice urged the need to slow down and drink up – lemonade, that is.
Well, you may not like lemonade, but I’m sure you love life. So, here’s to the summer of 2022 and the many memories to come. Drink up, slow down, carry on – and if you still have children in the home, cherish the golden days to come.