Friday, May 22, 2009

Summer Begins

It's amazing what a difference a day can make. Four days ago it was light jacket weather and in the 50's. Then we had 3 days of temps in the 80's a la mid-summer. Now it's 63 degrees under sunny skies in Streeterville. The irony is that it's the beginning of Memorial Day weekend.

Now I know some of you may be saying, "So what?" The point is that Memorial Day is the official kickoff for summer. The swimming pools open. Lifeguards go on duty at the beaches. Yet the weather is definitely not cooperating with some summer-like temps. The shorts will be remaining in the closet for a few days yet, at least.

When I think about it, summer being squeezed in between Memorial Day at the end of May and Labor Day at the beginning of September is kind of like American marketing's vision of the extent of summer. There are a great many other events that actually signal summer to a lot of people.

When I was a kid, summer began when school was out. Now I'm an adult and I work at a school, so "Duh!" The end of the school year still signals the beginning of summer to me. I just went from being in the little desks to being behind the big desk at the front of the room. Kids never really know how much teachers look forward to that last day of school, when the kids go home and don't come back for a couple of months. "School's out. School's out. Teacher let the mules out......" I hear from a colleague that on that last day when the kids pick up report cards, and the teachers get to go home by noon that we're (meaning the teachers) having a party in one guy's backyard. Let's just hope the cops don't get called because of a loud party in the middle of the afternoon. Headline: "Sixteen Local Teachers Arrested at Beer Bash, Orgy, and Brawl."

Because of the school schedule, there are a couple of other things that signal summer for me. Every year, just after school lets out, Wimbledon starts up. OK, I really like Cubs baseball, but that begins while it's still practically winter here in Chicago. Wimbledon means it's really summer. Nothing like a good old knock down dragout 5 set match between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to kick the summer off.

And then if Wimbledon didn't really get the message across, the Tour de France comes along. That means that even the official meteorological definition of summer and solstice and all of that has occurred. It's serious summer. Remember the Michael Jordan years of the Bulls? We were all Chicago Bulls fans in those days. Now it's difficult, at best, to watch them. Well, I'm trying to keep up with the Tour de France. There were those seven wonderful years when we referred to that kick-ass bike race as the "Tour de Lance." "Hey let's watch Lance Armstrong kick some European butts on a bicycle for a couple of weeks. Cool." Lance is back this year. Much like a certain Green Bay quarterback, he just can't seem to give it up. Too bad he won't be quite as good this year, and will be riding in a supporting role. Maybe...Nah!

By the time these two events have lapsed, that means that it's serious middle of the summer. Lots of summer left at that point and the temperature has always warmed up by that time. Shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops. Catch a baseball game or two. Lots of outdoor dining and drinking. Lots of outdoor physical activities. This is why I live next to Lake Michigan. This, I dream of in February.

The trouble is every yin has its yang. Every positive has its negative. Every beginning of summer has its end. Now American marketing tells us that Labor Day is the end of summer. Quit wearing white ladies. Not only that, but school starts back in session. Long pants, dress shirts, and hopefully a positive outlook for the new school year. It brings a little nostalgia for the summer, recently deceased, and for the languid days of doing nothing, when you had promised you would finish so many projects, (Insert a heavy sigh here.)

Now for me, in Chicago, there is another event that signals the end of summer, and it's the Air and Water Show. As it happens, almost every year, summer's end sneaks up on me and I find myself riding my bike down the lakefront one day, when I find that I can't take the path by the North Avenue Beach House because it's blocked off in preparation for the Air and Water Show. This is always a few short days before I have to return to school for Staff Development Days the week before school starts. The Air and Water Show is a time of excitement for a great many people in Chicago, but for me it just means summer is over, and it means that I have only a few days left to try to squeeze in 15 things I meant to do during the summer, and it means that I'll have to start getting up with the alarm at 5:30 AM again. It's just a little depressing.

On the other hand, it's Friday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend, and I have the entire summer before me. School is almost out. The endless possibilities of a productive summer this year are still there. The boat parties and the sailboat regattas across the street from my perch on the 14th floor are just beginning.

Being Memorial Day weekend, and the official kickoff of summer, I will be gone for a few days, and I hope everyone enjoys the long weekend. Welcome to summer boys and girls. Hope to see you next week. The view from the 14th floor is stunning in the summer.

1 comment:

  1. I hope you have a great summer Rex, I am a great fan of all techers and feel they are the "Great Unappreciated" profession in our society. I am very proud of what you do.