There was a little quote on Twitter the other day, attributed to someone anonymous, or at least anonymous to me and to you. She wrote, “okay people who eat popcorn one kernel at a time, show us where the bodies are hid”. I thought it was funny, because who eats popcorn like that if not serial killers? I eat popcorn by the handful, in a way that would make you suspect the popcorn was trying to get away, but I didn’t need to tell you that. If you ever find yourself in a theater with me, just look away to spare me the shame. The quote, however, applies to more than just popcorn eating- it applies to the south and those people who live there. It’s easy for me to tell you, with no coercion at all, that even on a day like today after a winter like this, I still could not live without the seasons.
Seasons give us something to look forward to. They give us something to hope for, something to switch lifestyles on account of. Seasons are everything in the Midwest, and to this Midwesterner, and I see the day today as one of hope. I take back what I said on Wednesday about loving the fog. I only felt that way then, and on a morning like this, with moderate temperatures and bright, still sun, I am thoroughly content in the brightness of this spring day. If I were forever stuck in spring, I would absolutely hate it. The constant tease, the everywhere mud, the shelf ice and the cowardly piles of snow hiding in the shade. We can still see you, shade-snow, we can still see you. But we needn’t live in forever spring, because summer is coming and that is reason enough to hope today.
Along with that hope, I cannot tell if I look so forward to summer simply because it is summer, and I can be warm and sweat and tan this white body of mine, or if I look forward to summer so much because of what I know my summer to be. If I were a city dweller, with no outlet for my summer self except a walk down a humanity-crammed lakeside walking/biking/rollerblading/yoga dancing path, I don’t think I’d feel the same. Or perhaps I would, as we all like warmth and sunshine, no matter where we find it, but to that person who looks forward to summer simply for the seasonal weather, I feel tremendously sad. Summer isn’t about the weather, it’s about where you get to enjoy that weather.
People in Manitoba, Canada, they love summer, too. It means they can stop plugging there cars in for a few weeks, and I don’t say that because they all drive Tesla’s. They get to stop shoveling for a while, and they get to enjoy the sun and the warmth. I’ve been to Manitoba in the summer before, and I went so that you don’t have to. I spent several sweaty days there, constantly looking for a shower to find cool refreshment. I had to shower often because there was no lake to swim in, no boat to captain, so sail to hike, no fish to bite. That’s unfair, there are fish somewhere in Manitoba, just not to the part that my wife hails from. There is little there in winter as there is in summer, and summer there just means hoards of roving mosquitoes, and perhaps a trip or two to the Pits. It’s a gravel pit, filled with water. It’s like their Dells, without all the hotels and slot machines and chlorine.
My summer, my Lake Geneva summer, is so exciting a proposition not solely because of the weather, but because of what I get to do in that weather. I cannot boat in winter, and when I try, it’s too salty and too tide-y, and there is too much air travel involved. I can boat and I can swim and if I want to fish I’ll fish, and if I want to sail I’ll sail. If I want to walk a shoreline, without masses of humanity joining me, that’s a free option whenever I wish for it. If I’d rather do nothing, and sit in a screened porch to while away a summer afternoon, then that’s exactly what I’ll do. If I want to dress up and boat to dinner, you may not be surprised to know that I’ll do exactly that. Summer is for doing, and because those things are the things I cannot do in winter, they are so much more appealing. I wait for those days with the enthusiasm of a seven year old waiting for a nearing Christmas morning.
My love of summer must be related to the weather, just as those southerners feel differently about summer, also because of the weather. While we find ourselves looking so optimistically towards summer, they find themselves already, now, embroiled in the heat and humidity that will not cease until sometime next December, when it pauses for a couple months before cranking up again. While we look forward to polishing our boats and washing our cars only once a week instead of once a day, they just sit there in the air conditioning, eating their popcorn one kernel at a time.