Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Seasonal People

Summer is coming. This great country we call home is so large, that depending on what region you inhabit, that small sentence can mean many different things. I know that for some of my north eastern friends who now reside in hotter zones like Florida, this time of year is making them panic. The heat will be excruciating and they will box themselves up in their homes with the central air on high.

My dad, born and raised in Florida, is accustomed to the climate and bears the summer well with a few ceiling fans. We truly are creatures of where we come from. I asked him once what it felt like to live without the seasons, and he laughed at me. He was amused at my assumption that there were no seasons in warm climates. He noted that different foliage flowered at different times of year, and that the weather did in fact shift from sizzling hot to rainy and cool. I made up a term for my ignorance on the subject: regional centrism. I am completely tied to New England seasons. And I am vain about them. And I can't imagine living any where else. But that's just me.

When I was younger, I didn't care for the summer much. It was too hot, and muggy, and there were bugs. It seemed to me that it was much easier to get warm than to get cool. If it is cold and you want to warm up, you put on more clothes, put some logs on the fireplace, crank up the heat, get a blanket. But if you are too hot, there are fewer and more short term options: Take a cold (youch!) shower. Go to a pool or a beach. Take off layers of clothing (but this is only good until you are naked, and you are usually still hot at this point). The option of Air conditioning is nice... but it defeats the purpose of summer entirely. It closes you up again, like winter does. It smells funny, and on a personal makes me sneeze.

But now, I love the summer. It has nothing to do with time off. I don't get the summers off. And summertime for parents is a crazy time. Working parents have to figure out day care or camp situations, and camp is pricey. Stay at home moms have to figure out an endless stream of things to do that will help keep muddy, hot, sticky children out of their houses. Summer, and weekends for that matter, are not time off for the parents of young children. They are the 'witching hour' of the year or week.

Still, I have started to embrace the heat. It could be that I am just getting old, and my bones feel better, and I look a little younger with a tan... I can even see my husband and I becoming one of those dreaded retiree birds who flock to Florida for six months every year and eat dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon. I used to make fun of those people, now I am looking forward to it. We even started looking at condos down there....

The sun was supposed to come out today in my corner of the world. It has been raining for a week now. I am both excited for the sun, and worried. I know that after all of this spring dreariness, the sun will unfold all the plants in my garden, and the summer mode of parenting will kick in. The pool will have to be opened, the lawn and window boxes watered. The extra levels of responsibility seem unnecessary and a bit irresponsible seeing I feel overwhelmed as it is. And yet... the dreamy evenings on my front porch with a gin and tonic watching my girls in sundresses draw in chalk are calling to me. The long days at the beach finished off by an outdoor shower in our yard and a dinner on the patio seem like a heaven that I can almost touch. The sun beating down on my torn up, dry and shriveled skin will be better than a day at any spa.

Summer. It is almost here. And I am ready for it.

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