I have a friend who doesn’t sleep. He goes to bed late and he wakes up early, and if you’ve ever been a neighbor to this habitual undersleeper you’d know that the bedtime is midnight and the waking time is just a few hours later. Maybe 4 am. Maybe 3:30. If the sleep is particularly sound and the covers are just right, sleeping in to 4:45 may occur, though this is unlikely. If you were this guy you’d have long days every day, but alas, most of us are not of this nocturnal persuasion. This is why we need our days to last longer.
Yesterday, sometime around 3:30 pm, I realized that the day felt quite old but was still, as a point of absolute fact, very young. My son turned 12 today, and he likely feels as though at 12 he is getting old. He is getting tall, smart, and handsome. I’d argue his genes afford him little other option, but still. Yesterday, while lounging and working under that Canadian wildfire sky, I thought the day seemed as though it might last forever.
This morning, it dawned on me that there was a reason for that elongated day, and it wasn’t in the way that smoky haze hung high and pale, nor in the way the sun, ablaze in smoke skewed orange and red, set late into the evening. No, the day felt long to me because of the way it started. If summer is short, which we know it to be, then we should seek out ways to make summer feel longer, even if we cannot force it to actually be longer. Aside from waking at 3:30 as my friend does, there is a way to trick oneself into the belief that you have just lived through a very long, very generous summer day.
Knowing the boat traffic patterns of a holiday weekend here does not require some long exposure to the scene. It’s obvious to everyone that the best boating pattern is either early or late, or ideally early and late. Leave the bulk of the weekend day to the daytrippers and boat renters, those who make the lake a tad more dangerous than I prefer. Because it makes no sense at all to elongate a day by boating in the evening, you have already guessed what the most important step is in making a summer day linger: The morning boat ride.
This is not to be confused with a morning ski, or a morning fish, though both would be acceptable forms of boating. Yesterday, I woke at a reasonable time. Perhaps 6:30. I am not yet old enough to keep score by the time at which I woke up (I had a full day’s work done before you woke up, the old timers would say). With an average waking time subscribed to, I had a coffee at home. I skipped breakfast because my diet has been experiencing some technical difficulties of late. I sat on my patio for a bit before driving to the Coffee Mill to pick up a coffee for a friend.
At the Coffee Mill, the line was long, the participants mostly haggard from the night before. Coffee in tow, I drove to Wooddale, to my friend’s pier- my friend who has a very nice boat. Within minutes we were plying the waves, talking real estate and taking in the scene. The time was not yet 9 am.
We had company on this trip, mostly fishermen in boats too small, and water skiers who fought with waves too big. There were sailors out, a regatta pushing from the Yacht Club to Cedar Point, and back again. Some pleasure boaters were already out, enjoying the softer morning waves that would soon be replaced by bruising midday rollers. We headed East first, then North for much longer, before whipping to the South and cruising slowly back to where we started. At 10:30, our boat ride was over.
I went to the lake after that, to watch my children swim from the piers and fish for the rockbass that hide in between the slats of soaked wood that make up the cribs. We ate some holiday leftovers and after some more time, went home. I flipped through the channels for some sporting event of some matter, and found none. Turning my attention back to the outside, I mowed my lawn while my wife harvested snowpeas, strawberries, and raspberries from our garden. My fishing truck was dirty from a late evening session last week, so I cleaned out the remnants of that trip- empty water bottles, some Culver’s wrappings, a mostly eaten bag of chips, and some knotted tippet.
Most of the way through mowing, I thought about my wife’s old cell phone. It was white and shiny once, but lately it’s just been dingy and scratched, a condition that belies its ancient age. Thinking about this phone, I finished mowing and drove to Janesville, to the Verizon store, where I explained the need for a newer phone and bemoaned my ever-rising cell phone bill. Later, outfitted with a new phone for Mrs, I drove back home.
The lawn mower was nearly out of gas, so I strapped two gas cans to the fourwheeler and drove to the gas station. The ATV topped off, the gas cans filled and unfortunately overflowing, I was back home a few minutes later. The patio was dirty, as was the front walk, so I blew them both off, and noticed the bird feeders were empty, again. Feeders filled, gas tanks filled, patio and walk clean, lawn mowed, new phone secured, I went inside to shower. It was 3:30.
At 8, I decided that we should all go out for ice cream. We chose Culver’s because we are from Wisconsin, and as we drove home with Andes Mint Explosion filled cones, the sun set in a most brilliant red over the corn and soybean fields. The day was finally ending, and what a day it had been. It felt like a day that lasted for two, and as I looked back of the things that I had done and the little I had accomplished, I thought of that morning boat ride that felt like it occurred sometime longer ago than just that morning.
And in that lies the key. Make your summer weekend last longer. Milk it for all it’s worth. Start each day with a morning boat ride, and end Sunday with one, too. You’ll return to work on Monday with the knowledge that your weekend was somehow longer than it was for everyone else. Except for my friend who wakes up at 3:30, his weekend was still longer.