Every year I feel like I miss summer.
And now, yet again, it’s almost over. I’m left with an achy regret.
I’m living summer like I live the other seasons. With the possible addition of eating outside and drinking rose.
That’s not enough.
Everyone has their ideal summer.
For me it’s sandy feet and endless beaches.
Every year towards the end of July my parents would pack up the car and we would head to a little shake-covered cottage on Cape Cod. Stopping on the way at Howard Johnson’s for a “grilled frankfurter” in a buttery squared-off bun. And a strawberry ice cream cone.
We spent days on the beach. Picking up every scallop shell we could find. Bits of abandoned crab legs and tails. Rocks with stripes. And occasionally a conch shell with a conch still inside. Which my father would boil out for stew when we got home.
Those endless beach days will stay with me forever. My sister and I in our Villager bathing suits. Riding the frigid east coast waves until we too were the color of those crab parts. My father with a beach towel wrapped around his feet so he wouldn’t burn them yet again.
And the concerts on the town park bandstand. Everyone on blankets. Sharing plaid-wrapped picnic suppers and a glimpse of Venus on it’s early summer rise.
But this summer I’m in the mountains of Idaho. Rushing rivers. Wildflower hikes. Loping bike trails in sandy high desert.
My girlfriend said this is true summer to her. She grew up here. Her “sandy feet”. Earned on the rocky beaches of the crystalline alpine lakes of Idaho.
I may have to understand, and partake in, the essence of summer wherever I am. Take the time to relish its uniqueness. Take the time to experience summer in these craggy western mountains. Or wherever I find myself.
But, oh, what I wouldn’t give for an amble down a Cape Cod beach, striped bag at my side, filled with scallop shells, colorful striped rocks and abandoned crab legs. Maybe I’ll even find a conch shell. With the conch inside, of course.