I was born and raised in Massachusetts. Both of my parents were born and raised in Vermont. New England is in my blood and bones, part of who I am, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. While I love to visit other places and enjoy all they have to offer, my heart and soul are in New England and always will be. It is home.
Summer is that magical season I long for all the rest of the year. I love the hot days and sultry nights. Summer feels like freedom. This is especially true when it follows a long, hard winter. It feels as though we’ve earned summer. The trees have completely leafed out, the grass is bright green, gardens are in full swing. A walk outdoors might yield the scent of fresh-cut grass or hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill.
Cookouts can happen any time in the summer but are almost obligatory on Memorial Day to open the season, 4th of July, and Labor Day to close the season. Cole slaw, potato and macaroni salads, corn on the cob dripping in melted butter, and watermelon tend to round out the cookout fare. And there is nothing quite like a salad when all the ingredients have only moments ago been picked straight from one’s own garden.
Summer is vacation time. When I was a kid that meant a trip to Orleans on Cape Cod. We stayed with family friends who owned a house and two cottages that were only a one-minute walk to Skaket Beach. It also meant two weeks in the woods at Girl Scout Camp. By the time I was in junior high school it was spending long, hot days at the town pool with friends.
Ice cream is delicious any time of year, but it seems to take on a special quality in summer. Maybe it’s linked with the memory of hearing the melody of the ice cream truck and running to ask for money as it made its way down the street or the trips to local ice cream stands for a cone or a hot fudge sundae. Whatever it is, ice cream just seems to taste better in the summer.
Watching or listening to Red Sox games (many games weren’t televised when I was a kid so we had to listen to the play-by-play on the radio), playing outside all day and staying out until the street lights came on, the thrill of a good, rip-roaring thunderstorm, bike rides, amusement parks and carnivals, camping, trips to the beach and historical sites, long days spent with friends doing whatever came to mind made it a season of freedom and joy throughout my youth. Now I enjoy that my place of employment takes Fridays off all summer giving us an extra day to enjoy the languid days of my favorite season.
For me there has always been a tinge of sadness at the end of summer. Goodbye to warmth, goodbye to vacation time, goodbye to sleeping with windows wide open, goodbye to summer. Somehow that hint of melancholy seems appropriate as the year slides into autumn.