As the temperatures climb and the sun continues to shine, it feels like summer is finally here. It’s felt that way for a few weeks, actually, but there was a moment in May when I doubted it was coming. Now that it has, and I’m at the start of my first summer in a full time job, I’ve been thinking about what it is, other than free time or vacation or a summer internship, that makes the season special. What I realized is that to me, summer is a verb. It’s a state of mind and a way of living, and no matter what I’m doing day to day, I’ll be happy to be summering.
Typically, when people talk about summering, they’re referring to where you spend your summer. For many Manhattanites or other city dwellers, and even people who live in the suburbs, this could mean decamping to Maine or Martha’s Vineyard or Cape Cod or Nantucket for the entire season. But I think summering can also mean the way you live during the precious months from the end of May through the first fall leaves of September.
Since I graduated high school, I’ve spent summers studying for college projects and the bar exam, I’ve had jobs and internships, and last year I even got a few months of wonderful time to just “be”. This year, what I’m doing in June or July is the same thing I was doing in February and will be doing in October. So what makes the summer feel like summer, if it isn’t a change in my daily routine? As it turns out, there are lots of things.
Of course, one marker of summer is the weather. The warmth and sunshine (and summer thunderstorms) make the world go round whether I’m in the park or in my office. Another is the clothes. Yes, I’ve spent a lot more of summer in shorts and flip-flops in the past, whereas now it means sundresses (although I do get away with Lilly Pulitzer at work!) and light cardigans. But no matter what’s happening 9-5, I’m in shorts and tank tops for a summer on the run. And a baseball cap to keep the sun out of my eyes, maybe even a cute visor after seeing Meredith’s photo of hers earlier this week…
Summer is also marked by more ice cream than the usual high amount I consume, and barbecuing on the deck when I make it back to my parents’ house for the weekend. It’s Popsicles and corn on the cob and wild raspberries picked in the woods. Watermelon, peaches and strawberries. Seafood, burgers and fries eaten outside.
It’s taking a walk outside after dinner at night and being bathed in the glow of the sky before sunset, when in winter it would be dark and cold. It’s looking up at the stars and seeing the fireflies, and hearing birds chirping before 5am. Yes, these only apply outside the city, but I escape often enough to enjoy them 🙂
Most of all, summer is a state of mind. It’s knowing that this season is the height of the year, between the rebirth of the world in spring and the fresh start we associate with fall. It’s appreciating the parade on Memorial Day, fireworks on the Fourth of July, ice cream and cake on my birthday, and the warm days that run together and trick you into believing autumn won’t come so soon. It’s all of this and more. That’s why summer is a verb to me. No matter where you’re spending it, you can live it to the fullest.
What does summer mean to you?
Are there any special events or activities that make you feel like it’s really summer?
Favorite summer food?
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