August 2010

“How’s your summer going?” Elizabeth, the cheery cashier, asked me as she started to ring up my vegetables.

“I’ll be glad when it finally arrives,” I joked, referring to the seemingly endless, overcast, cool days that we have been experiencing here in Southern California.

“Right?” Elizabeth added.  “I went down to the beach the other day, and it only got up to 62° as the high!  What is this, Oregon?”

We chuckled some more making small talk about the weather as I bagged up my groceries.  As I left, Elizabeth bid me farewell with a, “Happy summer!  Whenever it gets here!”

As I walked back to the car, I thought about her words.  I can’t ever remember being wished, “Happy autumn,” or “Happy winter.”  That fact seemed perfectly logical to me; summer is hands-down my favorite season.  I don’t know what other people think of summer—I occasionally hear people complaining of the heat—but in my humble opinion, summer is what I live for.  It’s probably the reason why I moved to Southern California in the first place.

To me, summer speaks of farm-fresh vegetables and juicy ripened fruit, of sunny days and swimming, of popsicles and sunburns.  Summer to me evokes images of long evenings playing outside before the sun goes down, of camping out, of looking up at the stars, and of enjoying warm-weather events like evening concerts outdoors.

Every year as summer starts growing closer, I am still filled with the same excitement as when I was a schoolboy waiting for summer vacation.  And, like clockwork, every year as Labor Day approaches and summer draws to a close, I find myself filled with that same wistful, melancholy feeling I experienced as a child when summer was over and it was time to return to “the real world.”

Elizabeth the cashier’s face shone in my mind, and her “Happy summer” words echoed through my head.  As I thought of both, I felt feelings of upset rising inside of me; how dare this cold weather still be here!  June Gloom is one thing, but it’s nearly August, and enough is enough.  If we’re lucky, each of us gets maybe 100 summers over the course of our lives—if we’re very lucky—and I don’t want to waste one summer on the “half-summer” we seem to be having.

And then two things hit me: first, I suddenly drew a correlation between my relationship to summer and my own aging.  Which, for the record, I am, on occasion, not thrilled with.  And second, I realized that part of what makes summer so sweet to me is that it’s not here all the time.  It’s tempered by the other seasons (whether people in the rest of the country believe that we have four distinct seasons in Southern California or not) and it’s the anticipation of summer and all it represents that makes it so appealing.

There’s something wonderfully symbolic in the way a year plays out that mirrors the way a life plays out.  One starts out with nothing but seeds then plants those seeds and cares for them in whatever way they choose.  Inevitably that person yields the fruits of their labor and harvests what fruit their efforts have produced.  If the harvest is “put up” well (as my grandmother used to say when preserving the summer harvest) then that harvest will last the winter through.  Then the cycle begins again.

It makes no sense—I’ve come to realize—to invalidate any of the seasons of the year, just as it would make no sense to invalidate any of the seasons of life.  Without things being precisely as they are, the distinct gifts that each season brings would be lost.

Happy summer.  And happy fall, winter and spring for that matter.

Joel J. Loquvam

Attorney At Law