For kids, summer is a beloved, heavenly time … no school, of course, so you get to stay up late and take swimming lessons at the YMCA and go visit family in other states and maybe go to camp (or at least sleep in a tent out in the backyard). Or maybe you go swimming in the lake or the river, catch fireflies, or go fishing. You’re free every day and you can do what you want. Sweet life.
But then you grow up and start working for a living and summertime becomes just another season of the year that has few charms, at least for me. Exercising outdoors becomes a struggle to avoid heat exhaustion and sunburn, the afternoon commute in the peak heat of the day can be a cruel endurance test, and if you’re a parent, you’ve got to keep track of your unschooled kids for three long months as well.
As I get older, everything I used to find fun about summer as a kid now seems problematic. I don’t like camping or boating or fireworks or any outdoor sports. Sleeping out in the backyard on hot nights? No way—my air conditioner and those of all my neighbors clunk and spin all night long, and I am the world’s lightest sleeper. Going to the water park? Not without waterproof 100 SPF sunscreen on every inch of exposed skin, and even then I’m likely to broil, so no. (I won’t even get into the bathing suit issues.) Travel? Not really in my budget. Swimming in the river? Again, there’s that sunburn risk that I can no longer afford to take, plus all the hazards that are inherent to natural waterways, including loads of goose and duck poop. Bleah.
Getting the dogs out for an hour’s walk in the morning before it gets dangerously hot for them sometimes doesn’t happen because I’m too busy trying to wake up, get us all fed, do my yoga and catch up with my email. The cool of the day is a couple of hours at best. If we miss the morning window for walking, we have to wait until nearly sunset or until the temperature drops below 85, whichever comes first. I can’t take the dogs in the car with me when I run errands unless I’m just doing drive-through tasks such as returning movies, so they spend more than 22 hours of every day stuck in the house, most of that time with all the doors and windows closed to keep out the heat. The unrelenting sunshine we’ve had for the past several weeks sometimes feels just a bit oppressive, actually.
So for me, a fair-skinned person who is very sensitive to the heat, summer feels a little dangerous and is sometimes tricky to navigate. Add to that my increasing caution and risk avoidance in general as well as my inherent aversion to the fundamental germiness of the natural world, and there just are not a lot of things I can look forward to at this time of year.