As we head into the dog days of summer, it leaves me wondering why the seasons affect us the way they do. The way the air feels. The aroma. The drifting smell of a good barbeque. Relative humidity. The sounds heard in nature. The angle of the sun. A welcomed clap of thunder and a good downpour.
The sweet aroma of a fresh rain.
Normally, I write about the seasons come fall or spring, which are transitional seasons. That means there’s not a lot to say about summer. All winter long, we anticipate the arrival of spring and summer. Cabin fever takes over and we can’t wait to get out and spread our wings and take in the fresh air. Once summer sets in, we tend to take it for granted—like it will never end.
We just crossed the summer solstice, which means the sun begins its long trek back toward the south. That journey will end December 21st when it begins to head back to the northeast. I live in the Mojave Desert north of Los Angeles. Because the desert is so vast from horizon to horizon, you really notice the solar and lunar patterns. The same can be said for the American heartland, which tends to be flat and wide open. You notice the sun rises in the northeast in summer and southeast in winter.
I personally love the lazy winter days when the sun rises low and stays low throughout the day. It is nature that makes us feel that way. In winter, we tend to want to sleep longer and nap more frequently, especially if you’re over 60. As character actor, Burt Mustin, once said in an episode of “All In The Family”, you never know when a nap is going to come on. In retirement and at the age of 65, if I decide to nap, that’s my business. Please don’t criticize me for it. I’ve earned it. It is an attempt to make up for all those times I’ve been awake for days on a project or taking care of a household.
The experiences of summertime make me think of childhood summers where we never really noticed the heat and humidity, yet these elements flatten us at 60+. Perhaps it was the absence of air conditioning early in life. We never got used to the cool of indoors. We played hard and came inside to a fan. We’d sit in front of an old oscillating fan, listen to the hum of the blades, and behold the rush of a cool breeze past our ears, and cool off. We’d crash and watch cartoons until dinnertime. Our moms would bring us a glass of Kool-Aid or—heaven forbid—horrible disgusting “Fizzies” (flavored Alka Seltzer), in an effort to cool down.
For children today, the seasons are something that happen outside and to other people. Kids sit inside in front of a television or computer monitor, play video games, and get into virtual friendship. They live a fake life existence. They never see one another in person nor toss one another around. They scream and play without ever knowing what a hot summer day nor what wrestling around in the grass feels like. It is an unhealthy detached way to live. This phenomenon ramped up with COVID and has only gotten worse. Most will never know the exhilarating experience of a bike ride or playing on a piece of playground equipment. We’ve gone soft and inspired our children to become the same way. Think about it. Today’s kids will never know or understand the experiences we had as children a half century ago.
I miss my mother telling me to go outside and play.