I just do! I love driving with the radio blaring, windows rolled down, feeling like there isn’t a care in the world. I am the “best me” in the summer. Although I don’t particularly like the heat, I love the rhythm of summer…the backyard barbecues with friends, the farmer’s market, and spending time
This summer has seemed a little weird since my son Cole isn’t playing summer baseball. He has been in summer baseball since he was old enough to stand and he’s really, really good. I like to think that he got that from me; I tore up the softball diamonds in my day. So when he decided not to play this year, I was a little torn. Summer without baseball…how could that be? For as long as I can remember baseball has been a part of our summers. Even when I was growing up my mom was a great softball player; her brother Spike (my uncle) was a “hot-dog” player as well. My husband Tom and I belonged to a church league, and being a mom of four boys, I have spent a lot of time sweating it out at all-day round robin tourneys and loading stinky boys into the minivan for that horrible trip home.
But with no baseball games this summer, there is more time for some of my other favorite summer pastimes, like exploring the back roads. I am happy on the road; it just makes my heart sing. I believe that, too, is a family thing. My dad and my uncle Mark will drive anywhere, anytime, just for a five-minute visit. So I come by it naturally. I love packing my camera and hitting the road. And being the maverick that I am, I prefer to go it alone, meeting up with folks on the beaten path. I love that I can stop anywhere, hike in and get the best picture, not having to worry that I am annoying someone. There is no one else’s schedule—just me, the open road, the camera and my car radio blaring. Family road trips are more frustrating to me, as my hubby is more of a “conqueror” kind of traveler who loves to say stuff like, “Yeah, we drove 600 miles without stopping.” I stop every two miles, and I am proud of that. I am less of a “destination” kind of a girl and more of a “journey” kind a girl, I guess.
Then there is sleeping outdoors. I love finding a shaded spot, with a slight breeze blowing in the sweetest of fragrances. In my neck of the woods you can get a whiff of the grapes that fill the valley and just a hint of the nearby lavender. I love grabbing my favorite summer read and an old quilt and finding a shade tree. Summer is the only time of the year that I read novels; the rest of the year I spend with three or four books open, usually something Michael Pollan or something equally worthy. But in the summertime it has to be a novel, a really great classic, romance-type novel like Gone with the Wind or something by Jane Austen. I will even dig out an old copy of Anne of Green Gables for the thousandth time or my tattered children’s book Flicka. I can’t say that I get much reading done in those moments. It takes me all summer to read one, since I tend to want to shut my eyes and listen to the many sounds off in the distance, a symphony of my own written for just that moment in time.
Oh, and we can’t forget summer concerts, those magical spaces in time where strangers can for one moment connect on such a soulful level. Last year it was my all-time favorite male singer Michael McDonald (who is just as brilliant today as he was back in the Doobie Brother days), Martina McBride and Shedaisy to name a few. We also came across a few lesser-known bands that we adore. It seems that every community has a summer concert series, and you just haven’t lived until you have taken them in. For me, music in the summer has its own beat. It sounds and resonates differently and is more readily absorbed during the summer months for some unknown reason.
Barbecues with friends are the best. The food tastes better for some reason. No matter how rough the week has been, the laughter of a backyard barbecue is the perfect medicine. And of course there is always the garden. Little else is better than walking out and grabbing a fresh tomato, cucumber and some lettuce for lunch; nothing you can buy in the stores can even begin to touch it.
If I had to choose one season as my ultimate favorite time of the year, I suppose it would be summer. I think it speaks to that part of me that is a maverick. Summer means wide open roads, big skies and a day full of potential…a day not limited by inclement weather, darkness or whatever. I love summer.