Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summertime

Summertime like a great aunt, whose girth blocks out the Carolina blue sky, swoops down on the Low County, her gelatin like flesh moist in perspiration, a suffocating grip that refuses to let go.

The humid air from the Gulf of Mexico has marched north like Sherman's great army and will lay against the Blue Ridge Mountains until nearly October, for the Carolina Low Country is a place where summer lasts well past necessary and on into ridiculous as if there should be a 13th month called Augtember.

Throughout the "dog days" of Summer our SUV's are left running while we quick step across pavement that can give 3rd degree burns to bare feet darting into the CVS for another can of Deep Woods Off, SPF 45 sunscreen and a cold 12 pack of Miller Lite.

In summertime's pre dawn hours there's a brief respite from the sun's relentless attack, it's the only time my Black Labrador Retriever Madison and I can go for a run. But the sun is pushing against the darkness, soon it will win out and bake the sands of Folly Beach makeing it so hot that by 3 o'clock you won't be able to walk across it without your flops.

Summer's heat can make your mind wander back to Charleston summers long since forgotten. Road side stands with peach and watermelon, boiled peanuts, fireworks and shrimp are part of my childhood, as no trip to the beach was complete without all of the above.

I don't care for boiled peanuts, but I'll take a fresh peach, and a bag full of M-80's if you don't mind, both make summer's heat a little more tolerable. For some unknown reason I have not been to a park for a "summer cook out" since the late 1980's but I remember it looking much like the photo below.

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By mid day Madison has made her millionth appearance at the glass door that leads to the deck, her pink tongue hangs out a short mile or more, pleading for relief. I give in and open the door, she darts inside and collapses into a pile of blackness on the cool tile floor then slowly inches closer to the a/c vent near the sink. Her panting begins to ease as the heat outside continues to climb past 90.

My niece and nephews are off to summer camp this week. If you've been to Camp Thunderbird, you know all about mystery meat and bug juice. Ask my 12 year old niece what she likes most about camp and her answer is Boys! I ask: "What about, sailing, watersking, swimming, campfires".... and Boys! She adds.

Ah the boys of summer, speaking of baseball of course, peanuts and cracker jack and beer. Add some fireworks and it's all the better.

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In the late afternoon the ocean breeze builds, bringing cooler air to the Peninsula, a breeze that fails to reach Summerville and Goose Creek, where it's the perfect time for ice cream at the Dairy Queen, trips to the pool, fishing in the late evening, and bugs. Oh my God the bugs.

Cicadas that sing from dusk into late in the evening, a chourus of frogs, crickets and whatever that big thing is....did you hear it?....there it is again!

Lighting bugs, millions of them, have you noticed? They are gone. The the other day I saw one in my yard just one, where there used to be millions. I know my brother and I caught a lot of them but...

Somewhere around 9:30 hard dark comes and humidity and temperature change places, humidity goes to 99 percent and the temperature goes to 85 degrees. The dampness is everywhere, and the air becomes heavy and thick and in this stillness wet clings to everything.

By the time July 4th comes folks in New England will also revel with delight in the warmer months with trips to the shore, while we in Charleston are heading to the beach for the 13th week in a row, or avoiding the hot sun on tree covered verandas and darting in and out of our air conditioned confines.

Pity the poor Yankees whose summer ends just after labor day, where ours will seem endless come Augtember.

With morning the process will repeat its self, the dew will burn off and the temperature will soar while the himidity drops to less than 50%. Madison will guard the yard, the courtyard driveway and then give up when the temperature moves again towards 90 and she'll make another 100 or so nose prints on the window glass.

My grandmother passed away in the death grip of winter a few years ago, fitting as she lived for her garden and the warmth of summer and today her voice echos every time I go outside, "Keep that door closed, I'm not paying to air condition summertime".