Here’s how I know it’s summertime:
*I can hear the rise and fall of the buzzing of the cicadas. This reminds me of childhood. I find myself getting all nostalgic for things that I didn’t much like at the time, like sleeping with the windows open at night to save money and nearly drowning in the Alabama summer humidity.
…and speaking of saving money…
*I’m afraid to open the electric bill because we’ve had the air-conditioning going non-stop for as long as I can remember. Normally, we’d turn the AC down a bit during the day, but I was (er, still am) stuck in the house a lot with my broken ankle and the baby. Plus, we had some record heat in June, and no matter how many ceiling fans were whirring away, it just got plain old hot in this house. Having an adequate AC level is one of the few things that I’m sort of inflexible on, too. I like to be cool. I get grouchy when I’m too hot. And you wouldn’t like me when I’m grouchy.
*My four-year-old son’ legs are covered in mosquito bites. Big honking mosquito bites. I hose him down in bug spray when he goes outside from April to October, and while it doesn’t prevent him from getting bitten altogether, it does help. But I forgot to put any bug spray on him yesterday morning before day camp. I was flustered, trying to get him ready for his grandmother to pick him up, and I just plain forgot to spray him down after I put sunscreen on him. Now his left leg has three massive red lumps on them–that’s three that I know of. There might be more. Those lumps are seriously as big around as a tennis ball. He whined that they were itching. I bet. This morning, I coated his leg in hydrocortisone cream, then sprayed him down with bug spray. Then I remembered sunscreen, so I coated him in sunscreen, and then, for good measure, sprayed him with bug spray again. There’s about an inch of stuff layered on his skin now, like a wall that’s been painted over and over. I don’t think you can tell what colors his skin normally is right now. I’ll have to use a a sandblaster to get him clean tonight. Or maybe a chisel.
*The yard’s brown. I personally can’t work up a lot of energy to complain about this one, but it drives my husband nuts. He’s all worried about having to reseed the front lawn again this fall. Seems like we always have to do that. We’ll get epic amounts of rainfall in the spring–particularly this year–and then when summer arrives in full flare, the rain dries up. And so does the yard. Sure we’ve had a handful of thunderstorms, but they’ve mostly been full of sound and fury, signifying nothing more than a trace of rainfall.
*Back-to-school supplies are already on sale sale SALE!! The flyers in the Sunday newspaper all advertised huge sales on back-to-school supplies. Stock up now, they urged, on gluesticks, markers, crayons and pens. Now, normally, no one has to urge me to buy anything of that sort. I am on record as loving school supplies, office supplies, anything like that. But it’s July. They should be hawking goggles and flip-flops and beach toys and bathing suits. I know that school starts around here in early August, which is unreasonably and ridiculously early. So it’s not totally ridiculous for the stores to try to shepherd people inside to get all their supplies right now. But I still don’t like it. Stores shouldn’t sell sweaters in July or August, either, especially in a state where it still hits 100 degrees occasionally, but they do, under the banner of “Back to School.” Nothing says summer quite like a scratchy wool sweater and some No. 2 pencils, eh?
*I’m eating tomatoes at every meal. Okay, this is a good one. My mom was here last week and bought a bunch of heirloom tomatoes from the fruit stand just down the road. Oh my God, they are amazing. They’re this lovely dark red and green, with that tantalizingly plump juiciness that means they are teetering on the precipice of being almost too ripe but not quite. I could write sonnets about those tomatoes. Well, I could if I could write sonnets. Last summer, I was pregnant, and just the mere sight of a tomato made the acid rise in my throat. But this year, I can enjoy them with gusto. And some freshly ground pepper. And maybe a dab of cottage cheese. I may have to sit here and daydream about them for a little while. Hey, you know, there’s probably some poetry out there about tomatoes. I should look it up.
*It’s almost my birthday. I’m a summer baby. I’m going to be a hundred years old or so this weekend. My poor momma was pregnant with me during a Mississippi summer. In the 1970s. I don’t think they had AC, either. I should send her some flowers. Actually, I’m not sure anything could really make up for being hugely pregnant in the summer in Mississippi. Thanks, Mom. I owe you big time.