The real joy of summer comes from the sun-fueled opportunity for pure relaxation
Summer is the sexiest season. I think it’s important to mention that because on one level this essay is about passion. On another, it’s about controlling passion. It’s that long, slow burn I want to get at this summer.
Don’t let me worry you—just because I mention sexiness and passion in the same paragraph, I’m not going to get all moist and melty. And, no, I’m not going to get in some big hurry to get to the point, either. This isn’t about that.
This is about kickin’ back. Relaxing. Regaining that part of our childhood summers when, no matter how much we looked forward to the last bell on the last day of school before summer vacation, toward the end of July the days and nights would get soooo looong. No amount of fishing or hiking or days at the swimming pool was enough to rub through that inner spot of tranquility that came with abject boredom.
And don’t you remember how you tried? How you could not stand the feeling of inaction. It was that moment before you poked your much bigger brother with that slingshot-shaped stick, the seconds leading up to calling that bully Bill Burling fat.
Do you remember? For just that one moment in time, you had absolutely nothing to worry about. You had no bills; you had no threat of violence hanging over you. There were no deadlines, except that one in the weeks-away future when you would be re-indentured for nine long months. But in that moment before you screwed it all up, you had the inner peace of the enlightened.
Summer is for children. There’s no doubt about it. You and I may get to take two or three weeks off to move our possessions to a campground, beach or hotel, but, really, most of the time on vacation, we’re just not at work. It would take months to decompress to that moment of serenity that children get with summer vacation.
I’ve found, though, if I’m conscious of it, if I think about what I’m trying to do, I can get close to that old feeling. I’m there now. I’m going to try to tell you how to get here, but the first thing you have to do is turn the electronic crap off. In fact, I’d recommend you go somewhere there aren’t a lot of mechanized noises, too. Might not be convenient, and it’s not altogether necessary. Still, if you head out Pyramid Lake highway, turn left and go past Sutcliffe, and then go three miles past the end of the asphalt on that washboard dirt road near the stand of willows and then walk over to the lake, we may be able to get to that youthful spot just a little quicker. You will want to pick up a day permit as you pass through Sutcliffe.
This is an extremely self-conscious exercise. You’ve got to be aware of what’s going on with all your senses. First, arrange your chair and get comfortable. What does the air feel like caressing your windpipe and into your lungs? What does it smell like? What noises are the birds making? Do your clothes chafe your skin? Can you taste your mouth?
Think back to that long-ago time when the living really was easy. Try to remember the smell of the gingko tree on the way to the chlorine-laced swimming pool or the aroma when Mom started cooking the strawberry-rhubarb pies. Remember the hollow splash when that bullfrog hit the water, or the marching band struck up practice at the grade school playground.
Imagine picking up a pole and casting your line into the water. You wouldn’t want to bait up—that could cause curiosity, which could lead to desire and distraction.
Now, encapsulated in the warmth of the sun and the kiss of the breeze, relax into your chair and feel your stress melting through your bottom into the sandy beach. Don’t worry about your pole because you’re not going to catch anything anyway.
And let the kickin’ back begin.