Summer fun eases pain of icy winters

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:34 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

The big day finally came, and I took a ride out to the old fishing hole to check it out. Within a few moments, the gently rippling water cast its spell on me, and I hurried back home to begin the annual ritual. Time to pull out the rods and reels, check the lines and tackle box and start making plans for the highlight of the season — the first fishing trip. I do this every year, and it never fails to add the touch of excitement that embellishes the substance of my great expectations for the summer.

This is the season when I have to depart from my friends who can’t live without air conditioning. I can’t bear being inside, and they can’t stand being out. I envy my writer friends who can set up shop outside in the summer. That has to be the best of all possible worlds.

The same week I went out to check lake conditions, I visited one of the state’s casinos for the first time. I spent $4 and won $10, which says a lot about my potential as a gambler. I suppose I could credit my good Methodist upbringing for teaching me the value of moderation in all endeavors. I have friends who go to bingo halls every week and think nothing of dropping hundreds of dollars regularly. They have become addicted to the excitement.

Anyhow, I don’t think gambling halls will become a part of my summer festivities anymore than will DVDs, video games or chat rooms. Some friends say my attitude toward summer reflects my small-town background. I don’t think that’s true, probably because I spent many of my childhood years in the city, and summer fun in the city, although different in some respects from that of a small town, nevertheless had a charm for me. Leisurely walks downtown to windowshop at the big stores were especially enjoyable. A browse through the newsstands or a trip to the city market, where an amazing amount of food products were displayed in crates and on shelves, made my summer Saturdays tremendous fun. End-of-the-line bus and streetcar rides to unfamiliar sections of the city provided delightful outings. We spent Sunday afternoons at the art gallery, at museums or strolling through the Country Club Plaza. I can’t remember a time when I liked wearing coats or jackets, and I always appreciated the freedom of leaving home without the extra baggage.

Ask me about miserable times I remember from winters past, and I’ll tell you story after story. Like the time when an illness in a friend’s family led me to accompany him on a train ride to a tiny village in southern Kansas. We arrived in the middle of the night, and the temperature was below zero. The little town had no street lights, and I had to follow his lead, in the dark, holding on to the hem of his coat. When we arrived at the house, it was empty and unheated. We learned later that the sick relative had been admitted to the hospital. Amateurs that we were, we took hours to find the woodpile in the dark, gather wood with our freezing hands and attempt to make a fire. I sat by the stove fully dressed for the rest of the night, wearing a coat, and I didn’t get warm until daybreak. Then there was the time I arrived home late one night to find the doors and windows of my house frozen shut. Thank goodness for good neighbors, or I would have had to spend the night in a motel. On the other hand, I can’t remember summer days that have fallen short of perfect because of weather. What can be a catastrophe in the winter can be a wondrous adventure if the sun is shining, the weather is warm and flowers are in bloom.

In my family, June is the month of birthdays. When most of your family lives in Minnesota, it’s much easier to plan family gatherings without having to worry about weather. I can’t imagine spreading out across the back yard or lounging by a pool in Missouri or Minnesota in the winter.

It does bother me a little that with the easy accessibility of airconditioning, we summer people are rapidly becoming an endangered species. Before long, we may become like the spotted-owl, a wonder to behold. But if the time ever comes when I’m the only person who shows up at the old fishing hole, well that may be the first time in a long time, since I caught my quota. See, in the summer, looking on the bright side isn’t hard to do.

I hope my good vibes about summer are contagious and all you readers have fun in the sun. Maybe, by next week I will have figured out how to make the world see things my way.

When you’re right, you’re right, right?

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