July 11, 2010

So here I am, back home on the East Coast where I love to be (especially during the summers, those Arizona winters are pretty tough to give up, I’ll tell you that!).

I’ve always felt there’s something precious, almost sacred, about the months of July and August in New England. The trees all full and getting lazy, the annuals people plant in their gardens all out in a million different colors, and the days turning from June’s bright, dry weather to increasing days of the muggies, with the sound of air conditioners humming, sticking doors, tomatoes ripening and gladiolus flowering in the gardens, heat lightning, mosquitoes, the ominous grumble of distant thunder, and hazy mornings with car windows all fogged from the damp night air.

It’s precious up here because you know it’s not going to last. The days have already begun to shorten (although not noticeably yet), but September and back-to-school sales and the start of another school year is just around around the corner. Between the long winters and the start of school, you learn early on to not take the months of July and August for granted.

For me, this time of year gets me all melancholy an sentimental. The memories of carefree summer days playing baseball at the school yard across the street, family trips up to the ocean at Gloucester or Salisbury Beach, vacation weeks at the cabin in Lake Ossipee, or cookouts in the backyard with the Red Sox on the transistor radio are all just that now – memories. And maybe time has done it’s usual fine job of filtering out any unpleasant memories of those days so you can be sentimental about them. But it is what it is; they are fondly held memories nonetheless.

As I grew older, I liked the months of July and August for taking drives to the New Hampshire seacoast or to Newport to hang around the waterfront and the mansions there, or walks around whatever neighborhood I was living in by myself, as if by having those experiences all to myself they could somehow, as Gatsby himself also wished, be bottled to be experienced in one’s own idea of heaven forever.

In Arizona, there really is nothing precious about these months – after all, the heat has already been settled in for a few months, and will still be around until early October. But even then, it’s not as if the weather begins to go downhill like it does up here in the Northern climes – in fact, that’s when the weather becomes why people live or snowbird in Arizona to begin with. In Arizona, the months of July and August are to be survived and endured, not cherished!

I’m not really sure what I’m trying to say here, except that July and August in New England brings about a longing and aching in my heart and soul from memories of days long past when times were different, things were not quite so complicated, and the world was a different kind of place. I’m a dinosaur, I guess, and I don’t really consider that a bad thing.

It’s during this time of year, when I still lived here, that I used to enjoy playing the compliation of Scott Joplin rags I used to have on LP. Their playful, peaceful, and melancholy – at times even sad – spirit recalled the same kind of feelings about simpler times I’m talking about here.

Joplin’s “Weeping Willow” is one of my favorites for that very reason – next to “Solace” it’s my favorite of his rags. This is a nice version.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:12 | Comments (5)
  1. I couldn’t agree more. I didn’t grow up in the northeast (Arizona desert born and raised) but the limited time I’ve spent there during the summer as an adult has had an impact on me.

    Living in the desert, we didn’t get the quintessential summer experience of going to summer camp, having Fourth of July cookouts (we were just as likely to cook as the food!), chasing lightning bugs, playing baseball in the empty lot, etc…. essentially spending summertime outside, doing fun stuff with family and friends.

    Just a few weeks ago during a visit to the Boston area, some friends took me to Kimball Farm in Westford, MA (http://www.kimballfarm.com/) and for a quick drive to admire the summer scenes of flowers, ‘real’ trees, and even just families out and about enjoying themselves. It was exactly what I imagine summertime to be like in New England…bucolic and quite enjoyable.

    Afterwards, we went home and sat on the back porch and watched fireflies (even caught a few just for grins). It made me feel years younger, and as you put it, as if times were different, things were not quite so complicated, and the world was a different kind of place.

    Comment by Dan — July 11, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

  2. Kimball Farms in Westford – yes, I remember them for their ice cream. Ice cream stands are ubiquitous to New England, an experience you don’t really find anywhere else. Roadside stands where you can actually walk up to a window, order a cone, and sit on a picnic table (or a big rock, as Tracey and I would do at Gary’s Ice Cream in Chelmsford) and enjoy it on a dreamy summer night along with the mosquitoes.

    I’ve often wondered about trying the same thing at the Coldstone Creamery in the strip mall above Cooper and Baseline next to the Ultimate Electronics store when it’s the middle of summer. Just like Gary’s – well, except for the 108 degrees temps, no walk-up window, and no picnic tables… Yeah that would work, you and your cone amongst the concrete, neither of you would last more than a minute.

    Comment by The Great White Shank — July 12, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

  3. ….don’t forget midnight runs to “Jack-in-the-box”. (hey Doug)

    Comment by Jerry "Keys" Palma — July 20, 2010 @ 8:30 pm

  4. ….don’t forget midnight runs to “Jack-in-the-box”. (hey Doug)

    Comment by Jerry "Keys" Palma — July 20, 2010 @ 8:30 pm

  5. ….don’t forget midnight runs to “Jack-in-the-box”. (hey Doug)

    Comment by Jerry "Keys" Palma — July 20, 2010 @ 8:30 pm

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