For my husband, signs of summer are women wearing tiny shorts or summer dresses and seven suns on the seven-day weather forecast. But I tell time differently.
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I know it’s summer when a chorus of birds and the sun wake me up at 5 a.m. and I like it. As beautiful as sunsets can be, I prefer sunrises. There’s nothing like watching the colors come back into the world and feeling the coolness of air against your skin. Walking up my steep road at 5:30 in the morning, the air currents shift from warm to cool to warm again; coyotes, deer and jack rabbits make an appearance looking for breakfast and the smell of jasmine from our yard floats all the way up to the top of the hill.
It’s summer when the dog forsakes her spot in front of Mr. Heater to hunt up her hose. Yes, she has her own hose and a baby pool as well. Being a terrier, she is designed to kill vermin and since that includes her hose, we’ve taken the brass fitting off it because her vigorous hose thrashing can become a hazard for the lawn furniture and anyone who gets in her way. About every 30 minutes the dog presents herself in front of one of us so that we can turn on the hose and she can kill it and get wet at the same time. Her idea of a great summer day is a swim in a large body of water, followed by the giant sprinklers on a golf course or soccer field.
Barbecues that end in popsicles and watermelon; daylight that lingers for hours after you get off work; weekends packed with festivals and fairs; wishing on dandelion puffballs without worrying that you’ll have to dig them out of your yard next spring; the cookie dough smell of Jeffrey pines in the early evening, the sharp scent of mountain misery in the afternoon; being sung to sleep by frogs and crickets and awakened by bird song — it’s all part of summer.
It’s summer when hot coffee becomes iced tea and you can wash your car without drawing a rainstorm. The scent of sunscreen, particularly Coppertone, takes me right back to summer even if I happen to be throwing out an outdated container in the middle of winter. Hot dogs, burnt to a crisp on the grill and slathered with French’s bright yellow mustard, are summer, and so is hanging around outside at night until nine o’clock, talking to the neighbors and solving the world’s problems while watching the kids play tag.
Camping at the lake, hot and sunburned from spending the day on the water; the delicious feeling of sliding out of a wet bathing suit into sun-warmed dry clothing and then needing a big sweatshirt at night in front of the campfire; is summer to me. Waking to the smell of pines, campfires, bacon and coffee, ready to get right back in the lake; searching for just the right spot to watch fireworks; and waiting for eons before they begin, is summer.
I do prefer the color and temperatures of spring and fall, but the signs of summer are memories of good times and more to come.
Wendy Schultz is a staff writer and columnist for the Mountain Democrat. Her column appears bi-weekly.