Depending on where you spent your July, your July was either an amazing example of what July can and should be, or it was a month bursting with too many dangerous ozone days and intolerably steamy nights. If you spent July in and around Chicago, then ComEd probably saw to it that your July was spent at least partially without power. If you had acres of crops last month, you probably cursed the sky for the lack of rain during the first three weeks and then cursed the sky for the torrential floods during the last week. July was a strange month, but a sweet one, full of sunshine and warmth and the sort of indefatigable humidity that can only be broken through repeated and prolonged exposure to Geneva Lake. July was my kind of month, and my days spent in and on the water numbered more this July than any other July since the time when my childhood July’s weren’t scheduled as much as they were absorbed.
July has now rolled over, lazily, into August, a month that feels the same to the uninitiated among us, but a month that has its own distinct personality and apparent flavor if you’re one who carefully studies the behavior of the different months. I do this. I know August when I hear it and smell it, and I know what the lake looks like and where the fish ought to be during August, and I know that there is more urgency in August. Summer heat is different in August than it is in July, but one thing is consistent. One sort of day is the same in July as it is in August, and it is a day that has been long dismissed by summer lovers and sunshine worshipers. The day that will feel the same next week as it did during the last is not a sunny day with balmy temperatures and tropical dew points, it’s a day spent in the rain.
Rainy days, when stacked tightly next to each other are pure misery. When summer arrives, we know we have a finite window in which to bask, and a heavy dose of prolonged rain is unwelcome by most. A soggy week will be struck from my calendar quickly, but it lives on in my mind as a warning that I will forever heed. If three days in a row are lost to rain, the fourth day of sun cannot be treated as any other day. It should be celebrated and owned, and for those with schedules that allow, this should be an easily obeyed commandment of your Lake Geneva summer. But what about rain that doesn’t last for days, and doesn’t flood our suburban basements and drown our parched crops? What about rain that lasts a day, or a morning, does that rain also ruin our summer or does it allow for recovery? That of our skin and our minds and our sun bleached hair, a recovery that is needed just as much as sleep and food, but a recovery that might be even more necessary and enjoyable.
I’d like to suggest that a rainy day at Lake Geneva, in the middle of July or August, might just be the most enjoyable day you’ve ever experienced. I spent a few hours inside a humble screened porch at the Harvard Club last month, a time spent dry indoors while rain alternated between pounding and pittering, the sound of each on the worn out awnings more pleasant and soothing than most any other sound I could recall. I sat in a chair, nearest the screened wall, just close enough so that I was dry, but for a few sprays of mist that found the screen side of my right arm. I was reading a magazine by lamp light, in the middle of a dark gray afternoon, with mist on my arm and wicker under my seat, and I was as rested and relaxed and calmed as I’ve ever been on the sunniest of July afternoons. That rainy moment on that modest screened porch with a silent subdued lake in the background was something that you really should experience. And unlike some elaborate description of some magical moment in some far flung land that is as unattainable as it seems desirous, that exact moment on that exact screened porch is available to you for the remainder of your life, on both rainy days and sunny ones. From $429,000 to $569,000.
(Or for those who require a little more refinement with their screened porch experience, the porch on that new lakefront listing of mine pictured above is available for $2.4MM, and includes the rest of the house and lawn and pier too. 6 Bayview Drive, Williams Bay)