As I look out my kitchen window, I can see my neighbor pruning the roses in her garden. It's 8:45 at night and still light outside. A couple is taking their yellow Lab for a walk through the park. All my windows are open and a warm breeze drifts through the screens.
It's my favorite season – no contest. First off, I truly hate the cold, and I don't even like to ski, so winter is immediately out of the running. Spring is okay, what with crocuses blooming and robins chirping and all that, but it rains way too much and lugging an umbrella everywhere is such a pain. Fall has brilliant blue skies and vibrant leaves going for it, but it depresses the hell out of me. When fall begins, to me it means one thing – my favorite season has come to an end. I can't see the beauty in the changing colors of the leaves. I just know that soon the trees will be bare and winter will set in for an endless stretch and gray skies and frigid temperatures will be the norm. Ick.
My family and I spent summers at my grandmother's house in Hawaii when I was young. That must be where my love affair with summer began. My sister and I ran around in nothing more than bikinis and flip-flops for weeks on end. We spent our days at the beach and ate pineapple until our stomachs ached. I was always crushed when it came time to leave the islands and head home to New Jersey (as if that weren't bad enough) where school was about to begin, every good lunch box was already sold out, and coat weather was just around the corner.
Another point in summer's favor – I can wear less clothing. It's not like I'm a nudist, but I hate wearing shoes, sweaters (so itchy and confining), coats, hats, gloves – all of those annoying accessories that you need to struggle into before you can put one toe outside in the colder months. When I was little, my mother used to chase me around the house trying to put tights on my tiny legs, until she would finally give up and let me go barelegged. I still refuse to wear stockings. I'd much rather be barefoot, wearing shorts and a tank top with no makeup on and my hair in a ponytail. Way better than wool.
My favorite thing about summer is the freedom – and I'm not talking about "God Bless the USA" kind of freedom. Summer puts me in a mood where I feel free to break from routine and avoid responsibility. Doing laundry, buying groceries, paying bills – all of that can wait. Case in point: last Friday I ate chocolate chip ice cream for lunch. I left work early and met up with friends for a few G&Ts at an outdoor bar. Saturday morning, I hit the farmers' market and loaded up on berries and Early Girl tomatoes and peaches so juicy I had to eat them over the sink. I skipped going to the stinky gym (it was too nice out to be inside running on a treadmill) and went for a hike in the hills. Then I read cheesy magazines on my roof deck and took an afternoon nap. Now if it had been wintertime, I would have spent the weekend pre-treating stains, writing checks to PG&E, and picking up dish detergent at the local market. Like I said – it's no contest.
Summer is also home to the Fourth of July, the pinnacle of all holidays – especially since there's no need to visit annoying relatives or buy expensive gifts. My favorite Fourth took place in Iowa a few years back. My boyfriend and I watched the town parade that featured bad high school marching bands and fez-wearing Masons driving miniature cars. It was about 100 degrees that day, so our afternoon was spent at the local pool dodging kids in orange arm floaties while we did handstands in the shallow end. At night, we barbecued in the park, listened to the community band playing flag-waving tunes, and ooohed and aaahed over the fireworks despite the five-minute lag between each explosion. My favorite photo from that day shows me sitting on a blanket with a sparkler in one hand and a Bomb Pop in the other. My smile is as wide as the Grand Canyon.
But nothing can top summers when you were a kid. Remember those? For starters, no school for two and a half months. That alone is worth shoutin' about. I used to spend endless days riding bikes with the neighborhood kids, running through the sprinkler, eating Flavor Ices 'til my tongue turned purple, and playing Red Rover until Mom rang the dinner bell. Then I'd head home to eat burgers and corn on the cob on the patio while the fireflies put on a show. At bedtime, the sound of crickets would lull me to sleep as the attic fan pulled in the cool night air. Pure bliss.
So let's make a deal. How's this: You can have your mittens and hot cocoa and spring showers and piles of leaves. I'll even throw in pumpkin pie and trick-or-treating and Christmas trees and marshmallow Peeps. I would gladly give all that away. As long as I can have summer.
a dilettante who grew up back east, then came to her senses and moved to san francisco. loves: strong coffee, warm weather, and good books. loves not: cell phones, emoticons, and bad drivers.
ABOUT KATIE MORRIS
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
7.12.02 @ 8:17a
My favorite thing about summer now is the nights my kids and I spend chasing fireflies and counting how many you can fit in a pint jar with a zillion holes punched in the lid.
As for loving summer, I moved to NC almost 3 years ago and don't miss the grey skies of western NY. Not having snow for Christmas is the only draw back for my kids and I.
8.9.02 @ 7:36a
I call dibs on the Trick or Treating and.. well.. just Halloween in general!
If Katie's really giving it away.
8.9.02 @ 7:58a
I absolutely love this column.. it makes me want to take the rest of the day off!
8.9.02 @ 9:50a
i propose that we get rid of the other three seasons and have just one endless summer
8.9.02 @ 10:00a
Nah, then we'd forget how to appreciate it. I'm a big fan of having 4 seasons, but if we could eliminate the muddy grey parts of spring I'd be happier.
8.9.02 @ 11:19a
Yeah, nothing is better than squeezing the sand between your toes on the beach during the summer. Good stuff! Although, I'd miss skiing if we blew off the other seasons entirely.
8.9.02 @ 12:54p
While summer is definetly a great season, especially if you're a kid, I'm partial to spring and fall. The cooler weather, less humidity, and beautiful colors. Winter has it's advantages too. Nothing like being in your sweats curled up on the couch reading a book, and lulling into a Sunday afternoon nap. The one disclaimer to my statement is as a native San Franciscan I can say the summer's there are awesome. Warm and beautiful during the day, and sometimes chilly enough for a light sweater at night. Believe me, that beats summer in the hot, humid, sticky south anytime - hands down. Ooh, remember chasing after the ice cream truck when you heard the magical chimes approaching your block?! Yup, summer can be saweeeet.
8.9.02 @ 2:21p
well, normally summers in san francisco can be lame, since it's cold and foggy for most of june and july. but now it's august, mid-80s in the city with no humidity. bliss! of course, this happens the day i'm leaving for the east coast for 10 days. i can't win.
8.9.02 @ 2:22p
oh, and erik, halloween is all yours. and today i'm having a two for one special, so you can have pumpkin pie as well, if you want it.
8.9.02 @ 2:48p
I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin pie. But Halloween is my favorite holiday ever.
8.9.02 @ 3:04p
I'll take the pumpkin pie!
8.9.02 @ 5:31p
Bob, the Beach Boys tried that. You can listen to it on CD now, and it still sounds good.
8.9.02 @ 8:16p
My personal fav.. Billy Joel, an afternoon drive with the windows down and the music loud.. no kids to pick up from school, no dinner to make and margaritas on the beach as the sun sets. I've only managed it once and at the time was by myself, but oh that memory is precious when your kids are asking what's for dinner and Mt. Laundry is nearly covering your hallway.
8.9.02 @ 10:38p
I completely agree with this column. I'm a summer baby, of sorts (May 27 is close enough to summer). I've lived in New Jersey all my life, and summer is the only season for me. I'd like to hibernate the rest of the year, but that's because I love to sleep. Oh, and I also love pumpkin pie, the spicy kind.
8.10.02 @ 12:55a
Billy Joel, the Jersey shore and margaritas. That's what I call a perfect summer day.
8.10.02 @ 11:35a
I'm beginning to feel as though I've missed something by not having been to the Jersey shore.
8.11.02 @ 12:45a
Ohhhhh, what you've missed, Katherine. The Jersey shore is definitely an experience. It's a mixture of beautiful beaches, gold chains, boardwalks, and great pizza. It's a 'see it at least once in your life' kind of place. Oh, and don't forget to bring your big hair and long nails with you.
8.11.02 @ 5:11p
Yikes, big hair and long nails.. now it's starting to remind me of a Janet Evanovich novel. Man I love those!
8.12.02 @ 1:21a
Me too, Katherine!
I COMPLETELY agree with Katie - you can keep the wet springs, nasty winters and the cold autumns. I'll take the endless summer, even with Chicago humidity.