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COLUMN: Don’t sweat summer’s heat—it doesn’t last forever

NO ONE ENJOYS summer more than I do.

I have several friends who often declare that they hate summer with its heat and humidity.

I can’t understand that. How could anyone dislike summer, that part of the year when new life of all sorts abounds?

Yes, it sometimes gets really hot and the humidity makes me sweat so much that I often go through several changes of clothes a day. But that’s what summer is all about.

The great thing about summer in Virginia is that the hot weather doesn’t last forever as it does in Florida, Arizona or Southern California. The heat comes and then it goes. And I, for one, appreciate it while it is here.

This time of the year about the only reason I go to the grocery store is to get meat, bread and soft drinks. For almost everything else that goes on the table I just walk out to the garden.

Some of the best times I have are when the neighbors come over to sit on the porch and help me shell peas or snap beans. We just sit there and talk in the cool and quiet of the evening and enjoy each other’s company and the warm summer weather.

A couple of weeks ago I went over to visit a friend and took my guitar. Following a big old thunderstorm, several of us sat around for an hour playing and singing. It was great summer fun.

I do that often, sitting on the porch on a summer evening with my guitar. After a hard day, it is very relaxing and I can sing my cares away.

A front porch is a big part of summer. I shell peas, snap beans and even make kraut in the evenings on the front porch. And when it starts getting dark I can sit in the swing and watch an approaching storm or the fireflies lighting up the night sky against the dark woods in the distance.

It has been a good year for fruit and I have eaten many a bowl of homemade strawberry or raspberry ice cream and cherry cobbler on that old front porch. Blackberry cobbler is next on the list, followed by those juicy summer watermelons from the garden.

You can’t do any of those things on the front porch in the winter when the sun goes down before 5 p.m. and it is as cold as a witch’s, er, nose in Alaska. You have to take advantage of the long, hot days of summer for all these activities.

You can’t go down to the river for a cool dip in the winter, either. Well, I suppose you could, but the dip would be mighty cool.

But you can head down to that old swimming hole on a hot summer’s day and cool off at least for a while. When I was a child living on a small river, we were in the water about every other day in July and August, after the water coming down from the mountains warmed a bit.

As a teenager my buddies and I fished in that old river every chance we got in the summer, often cooking our catch on fires we made on sandbars. It was some kind of fun.

I enjoy all four seasons, but I would have to say that summer is my favorite. The days are long and hot, which makes me appreciate the cooler evenings. Still, I like those warm nights when it is still 80 degrees at midnight.

Occasionally, I go out for a walk after the 11 o’clock news so I can feel the humid air, look up at the starry sky and listen to the sounds of the night, from trucks groaning in the distance to insects chirping to coyotes howling on a far hillside.

And once in a while I go driving down a back road on a summer night with the windows down and the radio on. There’s something soothing about music playing on a car radio on a summer evening.

As you can probably tell, it doesn’t take much to entertain me and I make every attempt to enjoy these little summer pleasures to the fullest. Why not? Summer comes only once a year.

I learned a long time ago not to complain about the heat of summer, the cold or winter or anything in between. I find some way to enjoy each season and make the most of what nature provides for my enjoyment.

Life is much more fun when you don’t fight the waves but rather learn to ride them.

Donnie Johnston:

djohnston@freelancestar.com


 

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