Here's the thing

The senses of summer

Summer is finally here and while my hair does not appreciate the humidity, and I as a whole do not appreciate the bugs, I’m glad it’s here. After the never-ending winter we had, I think we could all use some sunshine.

The thing about summer is it ignites all of your senses in a different way. Fall smells like pumpkin spice everything, winter smells like pine cone candles, spring smells like flowers, or if you’re highly allergic like me, a trip to the ER, and summer smells like sunscreen.

Sunscreen always reminds me of my grandpa. He had paper-thin skin as a result of dialysis for kidney disease so he all but bathed in sunscreen come summer. He used it so much that he even smelled like it on Christmas morning, months after it was necessary to use.

If it was summer and we were putting on sunscreen, it probably meant we were going to my Uncle Bill’s, to swim. If we were going to swim, then we absolutely had to have snacks, which were always Cheetos Puffs. And if we were going to have Cheetos Puffs, we were absolutely going to eat them in the pool because we were classy kids who didn’t care that the Cheetos had a chlorine aftertaste.

Once we and our Cheetos- stained fingers finally made it out of the pool, it was time for dinner. We carefully climbed out of the pool and sprinted over to the shaded area of the deck because of course we forgot to put our flip-flops next to the deck and of course our feet felt like they were burning off beneath us.

Eventually, I took note from my uncle to keep my sandals next to the pool and turn them upside down so when I got out of the pool, the soles would not be hot and I would not have to fall into a Rhythm Nation routine to get to the food table. He was an innovator.

After we all raced over to the picnic table and plopped scoops of whipped cream with a side of jello on our plates, we grabbed a piece of chicken from the grill, and settled in.

Almost always, the Cubs game was on the radio. Then summer sounded like my uncle beating his flip-flops on the deck when the other team scored, and all of us kids laughing our heads off because as a kid, nothing is funnier than watching a grown man throwing a temper tantrum. However, as an adult who does the same thing whenever the Cubs are down, I’ve learned he was onto something because that is an incredibly effective coping mechanism.

When everything was said and done and it was just starting to get dark, we’d find a comfy chair and sit back to watch the lightning bugs flying about. I would lie back on the scratchy green and white striped cushions of the white metal chairs, my hair smelling strongly of chlorine, eating more soggy Cheetos and listening in on whatever the adults were talking about. Summer as a kid was the best, in every sense.