I’ll admit it. Summer snuck up on me again. Like every year, I spent all fall and winter waiting on summer to get here. And like every year, it’s here faster than I expected. In the dark days of February I thought summer would never come. In March, I got my hopes up too soon. In April I put my sweaters away too early. And I’m not sure what happened to May. But Memorial Day is behind us. Summer is here. School is out. Pools are open. And the days are about as long as they’re going to get.
“The Summer of George” is one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes because I share George’s unbridled enthusiasm for the possibilities of summer…and his aversion to all stinging insects. So like most years, I wonder what I can do to make this summer the Summer of Sapp. No, I won’t get three months of paid time off from the New York Yankees like George. I wouldn’t take a paycheck from the Yankees if my life depended on it–Go Braves–but maybe I will be able to make the most of my favorite time of year.
So now that summer’s here–and before it sneaks by me–I need to remember what exactly I was longing for back in February.
I’m grateful for warmer weather. For the smell of honeysuckle in the air. For green grass, rocking chairs, covered porches and the chance to watch my dog chase tennis balls across an open field.
In the winter, I try to keep to an exercise routine by running inside on a treadmill. Running outside is a lot more fun. I’m grateful for that. If you ever hear me complaining about it being too hot—and you might—just remind me of February and I’ll quickly change my tune.
I’m grateful for summer because I enjoy stretching out on a lounge chair by the pool. For my money, there’s not much that beats putting my earbuds in, setting Pandora to the Spin Doctors channel, and reading Rolling Stone in the sunshine. I don’t need teak deck chairs and palm trees in the Caribbean to enjoy summer, although that’s nice. A pine straw dusted plastic lounge chair suits me just fine.
I’m thankful for longer days. Longer days mean you don’t usually have to drive home from work in the dark. They mean you can watch the sun set over Turner Field on a Tuesday night if you want to. They mean the possibility of evenings spent outside by the grill or on the jogging trail or at the tennis courts. And sometimes longer days mean after dinner trips for ice cream to the Frosty Caboose. Try the chocolate-peanut butter.
For many of us summer means time away at the lake or the beach or in the mountains—fried seafood enjoyed in the ocean air or the gentle lapping of water against a dock. For others of us it might mean buttery popcorn at a summer blockbuster or a blanket on the lawn at an outdoor concert. All pleasures afforded by July that January just can’t offer.
Summer also brings with it a more relaxed pace. It doesn’t always feel more relaxed, but summer is a time to catch my breath. Traffic’s not as bad, so my commute is shorter. I’m not always sitting in my car feeling like I’m running late for something. I can roll the windows down if I want to and turn the radio up when my favorite song comes on. I can wash my car in the driveway. I can eat on the patio at my favorite restaurants. Summer’s a time to get lost in a good book and a time to enjoy family and catch up with old friends.
If you want to ruin summer for me, just remind me how close we are to the days getting shorter (June 21st). That’s the most torturous paradox of God’s creation—that the best and longest day of the year also signals the beginning of the long, slow march to the shortest day. But for the next few weeks, the days will just keep getting longer until they seem to stretch on forever. Or at least until nine o’clock.
A nine o’clock sunset? If you ask me, we don’t need any more proof that God exists and that God loves us very much.