Jul 4, 2007

Rites of Summer

Today is the Fourth of July and besides being Independence day today is the day that in my book you can really call it summer. That being said this is far and away my favorite time of year. The days are long (not quite Seattle long but we get some sun here too), the breeze is still cool, and the sun has made June gloom a distant memory.

Erika on her parents deck late June 9:35 pm

Even as an adult with a job (sort of) and years removed from the days of a three month break from worries it still makes me feel good to know that on the 4th you have your whole summer ahead of you, and with that time you have the chance to get done all those things that make it a season you can look back on with satisfaction. Even here in Southern California where many could argue (and win) that we live in a state of perpetual summer (maybe thats why we like it here smart guy?) there is something about the season itself that makes you do things distinctly summer-y.

So what are the rites of summer? What are those things you just absolutely have to do before labor day weekend and football season? I don't know what they are for you but if I were to make a list I would have to say:
-Get in the water. I don't care if you live hundreds of miles from the nearest water source, find some. There is no more important item on this list than this one. I say the larger the body of water the better with two exceptions. Lets just say it takes a good day at the beach to beat a good sprinkler or slip-n-slide. As much as I hate La Serna High School (and believe me that hatred runs deep) I can still smell, with fondness, the cold shaded concrete outside the pool as my siblings and I marched from the parking lot to swimming lessons every morning. (Who knows it may be that one thing that has kept me from firebombing the whole place all these years)

-Get a sunburn. I'm not just talking the bridge of your nose or the tops of your ears. I mean a real sunburn. One that even 40+ sunblock couldn't stop. I'm talkin' the tops of your feet, the back of your neck, shoulders, and back so burnt that sleep is just a little uncomfortable for a few days. Then sit back and slather it with cold aloe vera (I keep it in the fridge during the summer) and remember how much fun it was getting that burn with every abbreviated movement.
-Go to a ballgame. Once again like my theory on bodies of water I would recommend the bigger the better with an exception. If you or your child are actually suiting up then the reverse rule applies and backyard games become the #1 choice. That said, its the summer people! Even if your city (or State for some backwards burgs in this country) doesn't have a major league team, take a trip to the big one at least once. (Hey go during a day game and knock out two of the items on this list so far.) Nothing says summer like a bunch of dudes absolutely abusing a pair of long pants and a button up shirt. Extra experience points for eating sunflower seeds or peanuts with no hands, heckling at least one opposing player, or throwing back a home run hit by the other team. And of course remember that winning is great but loosing builds character (not to mention gets you better seats next time when Joe season ticket holder in seat 1a gives up on the team early).

-Go somewhere just because its air conditioned. This one remains a popular choice in my family as my childhood home (in Whittier where my mom still lives) never had more than a window unit that was only turned on in the most repressing summer heat waves. This choice is also probably the main reason any of us got new clothes since the idea of taking 6 kids to the mall otherwise was a laughable option. (It also makes me shiver as a future parent.)
Malls are great, the library is good....but you have to be quiet (a little too much like school for me), but the best place to go for air conditioning is also the next item on the list.
-Go to a summer blockbuster. Save the corny art house flicks for the colder months when I feel like being introspective. In the summer time you must see at least one movie with no other redeeming quality than the fact that there were lots of things that blew up. Here are some tips on picking just the right one. Ask yourself, does it involve, a. a post apocalyptic world, b. a natural disaster of epic proportions, c. a movie preview where the only dialog is shouted, or d. (a sure fire sign) a battle of sorts against insurmountable odds in which the entire human race could be wiped out? This summer I think the hands down winner looks like Transformers based on the above criteria. But who knows the summer is young and there are so many things that need to be blown to smithereens which takes us to.......
-One word, Fireworks. It's sad that in this day and age I have to explain this one but the Simpsons said it best when they said, "What better way to show your love for your country than by blowing up a small chunk of it." See a professional show, light a cherry bomb in a dumpster, write your name with a sparkler. If it's illegal where you live go somewhere where its not. (maybe on the way home from the baseball game where you got sunburned?) Remember negative experience points for watching a fireworks show on TV....thats just ludicrous.
and Finally (at least for now cuz I gots stuff to do)
-Eat like its summer. Barbecuing is a given. I have lately grown bored with burgers and am currently working on the best slow cooked "bar-b-que" I can come up with here in California. Tried a number of things to this point, made some headway, but its a far cry from the guys who inspire me on the food network. Aside from the grill however there is plenty of summer food you need to consume on a regular basis. If you haven't held a quartered watermelon rind in your hands with a face covered in pink juice hurry....there is still time before September. Grab some potato salad, a bratwurst, and a cactus cooler on your way. And of course, don't forget that summer is the best time to visit those intrepid entrepreneurs in stalker vans...the ice cream man. Have a 7up squeeze pop, a strawberry shortcake bar, a choco-taco, or one of those pink foot pops with the bubble gum inside and you will never want those leaves to change colors again.

I guess thats what makes summer so great and the fourth weekend so exciting. There is so much to do, and so much time left that you could actually conceive doing it all.

And if you plan on doing it all try bringing along the family....cause they're outa school too and its just more fun with them around.

did I miss one you just have to add? leave a comment and tell me why.


  1. home made ice cream. love it. strawberry, raspberry, or peach are the flavors that remind me of growing-up 4ths of july, but once you've done one of those, it's ok to move on and try out a double chocolate fudge brownie recipe. yummy.
    and by the way, that last picture kills me. kills me.

  2. You will be happy to know we have experienced all of the mentioned summer rites, except attend a baseball game. (which will happen before the end of August) We even got some of our sun and water from California (Half Moon Bay) One of my favorite summer activities is laying on the grass at night looking a the atars:) Love you both and loved the pictures! Shauna and Boys

  3. Go on a road trip. Summer is just not summer unless you get to drive for hours and hours to visit family or a favorite national park.

    I'm glad that growing up our final destination was never just Idaho Falls, but the cabin. I'm afraid that it just does not feel like summer without a cabin like vacation.

  4. Open all the doors and windows! I spent @8 months saying "close the door" and 4 months saying "leave it open!" I especially love sleeping beside (or under) an open window..and I will be glad when that mockingbird's nestlings finally learn to fly.

  5. We have done it all (Summer stuff) except baseball. So I'm taking my whole ward (COW)out "to the old ball game" Go River Cats!
    It's great to have new neighbors!
    Wonderful writing.


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