Some of my favorite memories were made in flip-flops. Long summer afternoons spent sandle-shod with legs swinging the idle days into months and years gone by. The month of June is suffused with the fragrance of Texas wildflowers, the glorious sunshine glazing field and forest with powdered gold over the grassy hillsides hither and yon.
Friday was the summer solstice, the first “official” day of summer. However, for those of us in East Texas this day just confirms what we’ve all been suspecting for more than a month now: it’s summertime in the 9-0-3.
Growing up, there was nothing like a Saturday — unless it was the Saturday leading up to the last week of school and into summer vacation. That was all the Saturdays of your life rolled into one big shiny ball.
Oddly enough, I especially remember the library during summertime being one of the most wonderful things of that long slow season. Between all the swimming and sports and staying up late, were many hours spent lazing in overstuffed chairs in the cool, climate-controlled sanctuary of the local library. Unlike the school year — where I was too often distracted by such trifles as arithmetic and other arbitrary sciences — during the summer I could read and study anything and everything I set my hand to, extravagantly abandoning a book if it didn’t hold my attention well enough, and greedily turn to another. How many of those days did I spend, storing up vast knowledge in the greedy corners of my mind for my own pleasure — expect for the occasional polished pearl of supposed wisdom that I would later drop casually to the dubious wonder of my teachers and the weary bemusement of my peers.
But now, as a man, summer has little influence on my personal schedule, save for that of my school-age children.
No matter where you go in this great state, the summer months mean heat. Whether out in the barren wastelands of El Paso up to the high plains of Amarillo and down to the coastal climes of Corpus or South Padre, from June to August you’re guaranteed to sweat and curse the great Texas heat that surrounds us all.
I was listening to the radio last week and the disc jockey was doing a survey to see whether people would prefer to be too hot or too cold. Different people called in with their opinions, but the announcer made me laugh when she said, “I think I prefer it somewhere between hot and cold.” How insightful! Of course, that wasn’t the question and if we could all pick, I’m sure we’d all choose perfect weather as our favorite climate. When it comes to comfort we’re all a bunch of “Baby Bears” — not too hot, not too cold, but “just right.”
As for me, my answer would be both. I love each season for what it is, and for its utter indifference to my comfort. What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness? So too is the inverse. The balance of the seasons, I believe, is meant to teach us something about the seasons we all will endure in our lives. None of our days are entirely summer or winter extremities, and the temperate transitions of autumn and spring are an all-too-brief sweet reprieve.
Here in Texas we enjoy a long summer — often too long, I’ll concede. Sometimes too hot the summer sun shines upon us, and sometimes a man says things in summer he doesn’t mean in winter.