Saturday, August 03, 2013

Making Summer Hang Around Longer

Just the other day in June we marked Summer Solstice and the First Day of Summer but already, with August having made its insidious appearance, we are preparing to bid summer goodbye. “Back-To-School” ads are all over the place, touting everything from crayon packs and pourable glue to 2-hole manual pencil sharpener and 2-ply facial tissue pocket pack. Most of the products have “scholastic” added in front of their labels, although it is anybody’s guess how a glue, other than being sticky, can also be scholastic.

How can this be? How can summer come and go so blindingly fast? It’s not fair. So here’s a list of things we can do to make summer stay longer, or at least linger, until we have repaired our body and soul from too much work, worry, stress and the unbearable irony of, well, life.

1. It all depends on the kids, really. Refuse to go to school until the second week of September. Easier said than done, you say? Maybe but it’s not as difficult as you think. Contrary to what they may say in public, teachers (the tenured ones anyway) will be delirious with joy if they don’t have to see their unruly, screaming wards until two or three weeks later than usual. The real problem is with the parents who had been praying for schools to reopen right after Independence Day celebrations. How to convince the parents? Simple. Start doing chores around the house with a single-mindedness that borders on the creepy. Do the dishes and then do the same dishes again. Do the laundry. Clean the kitchen and the bathrooms and the garage until they glow like fireflies. Haul out the garbage and if there is no more garbage to haul out, create some. In short, astound your parents with your conscience. They will hold you tight and not let you go until they must because it is September 15.

2. Fill up the hummingbird feeders with nectar. In a magical, mystical way, if hummingbirds linger, so will summer.

3. Drag the parents and the family cat to the local park and make them feed the ducks or the squirrels. If there are no ducks or squirrels, do some jumping jacks with the cat and wow everyone around with feline and human dexterity, even if a few scolds threaten to call the police for something about being a public nuisance. What’s summer if it isn’t also a little subversive?

4. Improve your vocabulary by memorizing a long word (at least ten letters) for each of the 26 alphabets in the English language. Use them at family meal times (all 11 meals per day must be with at least one member of the family) until mom and dad are convinced that sending a budding Brown (Dan) or Bellow (Saul) to school (that nips any talent in the bud anyway) too early will be criminal.

5. Talking about eating, be sure to include in your menu blueberries, green bananas, yogurt sprinkled with tiny heirloom tomato slices, carrots dipped in hummus, and the occasional partially-cooked eel. No parent will have the heart to replace this super-healthy food habit with what passes for food in the school cafeteria, until they must, starting September 15.

6. Swimming. Ah yes, swimming. What’s summer without swimming? Whether it’s in the ocean or the neighborhood creek, don’t begin your swimming adventure before the third week of August. Dangle the prospect of an Olympic medal before mom and dad. Although you come close to drowning more than once, you convince them that you are the next Missy Franklin or Michael Phelps. Even if your ability in water isn’t persuasive, your contagious enthusiasm is. Surely it is out of question, particularly since you are not drowning anymore, to return to school before September 15, yes?

7. The starry nights of summer are enlivened by the thrilling sight of shooting stars. With mom and dad, you marvel at the celestial objects streaking across the sky one warm and late August night. As you start naming the various meteor showers and the constellation they spring from, your dad tells you that unless you shut up, he is going indoors. You become silent and hug him and tell him astronomy is in your blood and if only you can hone your expertise for just three more weeks, unencumbered by homework and tests, you can become another Tycho Brahe. Tyke who? he asks, alarmed. You sigh. Dad is embarrassed. Alright, he says, alright, but if your grades don’t move north by Novemmber, all bets are off.

8. For the rest of us, start reading the Collected Works of William Shakespeare and the Collected Prose of Woody Allen, alternating between the two. Othello followed by Without Feathers. Midsummer Night’s Dream followed by Play It Again, Sam. Once you are done, pick up “Remembrance of Things Past” by Marcel Proust but stop when you come to the part about madeline and memory. Thereafter, simply indulge in madelines until your memory turns upside down and you begin to see dead people. Even if time doesn’t stand still, you will find that it has started to crawl. And that will be enough to add a few more weeks to summer.

Summer was always meant to stay longer than it does, at least in these frenetic times. Unlike the weather, however, we can do something about it. The list is limited only by the imagination. And isn’t summer the season of imagination?

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