Sudden Summer
Warm weather brings welcome revitalization

text and photos copyright © 2006 by Mike Colclough, all rights reserved.

June 1, 2006

SPEED OF LIGHT - Lightning creates two ghost images of an overpass as the camera--with shutter open--passes underneath, mounted to the dashboard of a car.

Earlier this evening I sat at the red traffic light of a major intersection with a good view of the sky. Ahead, a thunderstorm brought enough darkness to awaken the street lights an hour early. Lightning flicked from cloud to ground every few seconds.

The evening's meteorological opening act mixed well with the AC/DC song on my stereo, and was distant enough so that I could still keep the windows open to the muggy, 75-degree air. Like a bolt of lightning in my brain, the thought occurred to me: "Where did summer come from?"

Summer in New England has always occurred suddenly because we don't get spring. We get swinter. I would say "sprinter" but that implies "fast," and our cold wet months of March and April are anything but fast. They make us wonder when summer will finally arrive.

Then--BAM--it does. I shouldn't be suprised, but this year, swinter lasted through May (see blog on flooding.) That made summer's arrival feel all the better.

Hot weather doesn't normally feel this good to me. I normally might enjoy camping in Costco's walk-in freezer from June to September. This year, I've had enough of the cold. In those final days of swinter last week, I'd even caught my latest-ever bronchitis and I'm still coughing a bit. I wondered if we'd all be wearing sweaters and rain coats to the Independence Day parade.

Tonight as I watched the lightning show with the AC/DC song, such negativity was gone from my thoughts. I didn't even want to put the windows up and crank the A/C. I could feel summer telling those leftover germs in my passages that their season is over, leave now.

Summer's voice had been the steady chirp of crickets, grasshoppers, and frogs along the wooded roadside prior to my reaching the intersection. Then it became the rumbles of thunder that were occasionally audible over the passing traffic.

This year I realized how much I love those voices. I probably won't be celebrating hot weather as much in August when the manager at Costco evicts me after discovering my tent among the crates of Jimmy Dean sausages and 5-gallon milk jugs. I'll probably be longing for fall, but for now I love summer.

Watching the passing traffic made me think of summer road trips to places like Atlanta and Phoenix. I wanted to be back in those places. Other reasons to love summer came to mind: Fireflies. Watching Red Sox games and playing catch. Listening to someone's fireworks while driving near a body of water. Passing backyard barbeques with aromas just as enticing as the one coming from the steakhouses and pubs along the strip.

Traffic on the strip in front of me came to a halt, and my light turned green about as quickly as swinter became summer. When the AC/DC song ended I turned the radio off. I wanted to hear other people's car stereos, and more of those roadside critters singing along with thunder's percussion.

The suddenness of summer has been an encouragement this year--that the weather, like life itself, often makes you think the cold rain is going to last forever. When you least expect it, it's time to put the top down and turn the radio up.

Then you get the green light. With celebration, anticipation, and the newfound energy of lightning in the evening sky, you turn the corner.