Right now it's 6:52 AM on Sunday, July 3rd. There is no reason in the world that I should be awake right now, since I had yesterday off and I'll have tomorrow off, too. I am smack in the middle of a long vacation and here I am, watching Buffalo (our cat) watch the sunrise, making my way through a mug of coffee, reading and writing my way through the morning. There are few things I love more than the pleasure of saying, "man, I did so much on my days off."
Really, I am awake because yesterday I got too much sun and exercise and went to bed at nine thirty. Now I have a little sunburn and a little headache, and at 5:30 I decided just to get up and pack in another few excellent hours of July.
Yesterday Greg and took the Vespa down to Collinsville, Connecticut, a little town on the Farmington River. How many years we've been driving around on that thing I don't know, but I can't get enough-- the windiness of the ride, the restfulness of holding on to Greg's back, the houses that come one after the other for miles and miles. Taking back roads on a Vespa acclimates you to the interconnectedness of towns; some are little and go by in a green flash, others are bordered by strip malls. Highways are basically teleportation devices where you're just deposited in your town of choice, but on a Vespa you really have to get there. Connecticut is dense and varied, and there are a lot of different ways to arrive in any place.
We went out on the river with our friends Dan and Marta and their puppy Wallace. Their little family was in a canoe, Greg and I were each in a kayak-- all the better to race with. The river was looking wide and cold and deep and I could not have been happier. We paddled around, working on our rowing form (both Greg and I adore boats; he rowed crew for years, while I spent many summers in my grandfather's canoe looking for turtles), cooing at poor Wallace. We drifted between ducks and geese, and avoided fishermen. We went swimming in the cold July river-water. We paddled up to a bridge and turned around under it, just for the principle of making it that far. Greg lost a flip-flop, helpfully designating this particular river trip as "the time Greg lost a flip-flop."
Lately I have noticed that I cannot get enough of this kind of thing. I am a glutton for summer. I will eat a hot dog for the sake of summer in the way that people who love Christmas will fanatically bake sugar cookies. If I don't go swimming in a lake, a river, a pool, and the ocean-- each at least twice, and five times for the ocean-- I consider the summer an abject failure. I also need to read an equally gluttonous number of six-dollar novels, respectable classics, and nonfiction on horrifying topics. Some summer reads of yore: Anna Karenina, Helter Skelter, Columbine (those last two back-to-back... not recommended), The Dud Avocado, I Capture the Castle, and a truly astounding number of Agatha Christie mysteries. Should I be ashamed? I am not. We have a cultural agreement that anything is allowed to be read on the beach, even if we scoff at those books later. Every summer I remember the pleasure of unsweetened iced tea and of thunderstorms. Every summer I remember the pleasure of getting tired from too much sun. Every summer I remember that everyone looks both stupid and awesome in cutoffs.
After losing to Greg in one final kayak race, after a new pair of flip flops, after sandwiches and lemonades, after wearing the puppy out, after a visit to a bookstore (and three new books), after backyard beers, after a long Vespa ride home, after a dinner of frozen pizza, after watching Cars-- I realized I was a little sunburned. I wandered up to bed with a magazine and a glass of water and I read until I fell asleep. At nine thirty. I said goodnight, summer, I'll see you early tomorrow. And here I am. Hello, summer. I hope you last a long time.