Early summer serves hope with a side of nostalgia

Summer is almost here… my garden is finally fully planted. My house continues to look like no one’s interested in cleaning it, but who wants to spend any time inside now that the weather beckons us outside? One could argue that I’ll latch onto any excuse not to clean the house and the house didn’t look so clean even when the weather kept me inside, but one would be so rude, don’t you think?

My calendar is gloriously void of concrete plans for the summer but still so full of hope. At this point, I can imagine going on weekly hikes, having friends over often to sit and visit on the deck, going camping multiple times, going to every outdoor music festival or concert under the western Colorado sky and going on a great little vacation to some previously unknown destination sometime this summer. In mid-May, everything is still a possibility, which lends a delightful, delicious sense of anticipation that this summer will be full of fun, frolic, purpose and wonder.

Sometime in June, the heat will turn up a notch or two. The bugs will attack with a vengeance. Our schedules will get complicated. The weeds will launch an offensive and I’ll let week after lazy week slip by without so much as a trip to Orchard Mesa, let alone multiple camping trips to Grand Mesa and beyond. I’ll forget to invite friends over for dinner and will end up hanging out on the deck with Howie the dog for company.

But for now, in the middle of May, I can always dream.

I grew up in Wyoming, where summers are short and sweet. Short because you can’t count on a frost-free day until the first of June and it could always snow by Labor Day. But sweet because the wind finally quits blowing.

Well, it usually quits continuously blowing. I remember taking shelter downtown from a tornado in the middle of summer one year. At least in the summer, gale force winds are an event in Cheyenne, Wyo. In the winter, they’re a daily, non-stop occurrence.

Although my head recognizes that summers must have been short back when I was a kid, my memories are full of long, lazy summers that stretched out and made 10 weeks seem like 10 years. Is this what happens when we age? We forget the mosquitoes and just remember catching crawdads in the creek. 

In the summers of my childhood memories, there was always time to do everything. Of course, it helped that I didn’t have a full-time job, nor did I have to think about meals, groceries, paying bills or car insurance. It’s easy to have time for fun stuff when you’re a kid. I mean, isn’t that the point of childhood in the summertime?

Cheyenne was still a small town when I was a kid in the 1970s. We’d take off on our bikes with a picnic lunch and be gone all day. No cell phone tied us to Mom if we got in trouble, but we never seemed to need it. Although the rodeo (Cheyenne Frontier Days, the Daddy of ‘em All, for those who may not know that chew has nothing to do with gum) brought more than 100,000 tourists to a town that had fewer than 60,000 residents, we still roamed around and went to every parade and free event in town. We saved our money to go to the carnival at night, where we snuck into the beer tent because the crowded conditions meant no one carded 16-year-olds, and then rode the Zipper until someone puked. Ah yes, the fun stuff that makes summer complete.

This year, no matter how nostalgic I get for the summertime of my childhood, I don’t plan on doing any fun stuff that involves puking. That’s been one of my summertime guidelines for years now, and it’s one that’s worked well for me.

So here’s wishing we all have enough free time to enjoy the summer and enough money to pay for the free-time fun. And no puking, regardless of the occasion.

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