82 Days of Summer Vacation

June 14, 2010 by Ellen Stimson in Summertime

School’s out. Graduation is over and another sweet summer stretches before us. They all run together unless you have a few modest goals to keep them sharp one from another in your mind. Like good new year’s resolutions they make us feel useful in the world and color the season with green memories that will keep us warm well into the deep winter.

I have always been a big believer in lists and resolutions both. Hardly anybody knows this. I cultivate a spontaneous whimsical persona that makes things like moving to Vermont seem almost like a whim. In reality it was something we longed for and planned loosely around for years in the form of resolutions and quiet but steady listmaking. And I also believe in the power of summer to make us feel deeply contented and remind just what this whole business is supposed to be about. When I think of summers past I can feel the scratchy grass on my legs and see the clouds that looked like dragons or teachers dressed up as fish. We always went on summer vacations and that was where I learned about the world outside of Granite City and that there were people who had big thoughts and wrote books filled with them. Summer was when I could take out as many books from the library as I could carry home on my bike. It was when I got spending money for vacation with which I could buy books for my own bookcase, and when I could see matinees, double features at the Washington theater for two dollars. Summer had its own smell too. It smelled like freshly mown grass and hot asphalt, lake water and fireworks, rotting logs, and charcoal. Summer was when I saw Jaws and will see it again this year on the side of our house on a big white sheet tacked up just for the occasion. Because a drive in yard party is on my list.

So are walks on the doggie beach before work in the mornings. And I am going to make a list of books I have been meaning to get to all my life and read just three of them this summer. In between I will read some big gooey thrillers like Daniel Silva’s latest and maybe I will reread all of my Ellen Gilchrist because she always makes me happy. People will be telling their travel tales before long. Someone will undoubtedly go to Universal and ride the new Harry Potter ride. I want to do that sometime too. And lots of people will go to Italy and see the David and maybe go on an insider’s tour of the Vatican. I like those stories. But the stories I like best are the ones where someone tells me they watched a lightening storm over the ocean, or walked through a cranberry bog, or picked wild blackberries when it was almost 100 degrees and then ate them from the back of the car by the side of the road.

So also on my list are at least three pullovers. Maybe we’ll see an eagle or it might be an early morning auction. Whatever we see we must pull over at least three times and experience that unplanned for thing.

I am going to cook whatever is at the farmstand since I skipped the garden this year. But I will make sure to have to staples on hand just in case. There will be good balsamics for the watermelon salad, good bacon and lemon flavored mayonnaise for the basil tomato bacon sandwiches that are surely coming. I’ll keep some seltzer on hand for the egg creams when it gets hot and a jar of grits for when the mornings are stormy.

I am going to go to the movies with Eli and maybe get him to ride some go-carts with me. Hannah and I will spend at least one day in the sun reading trashy magazines and eating only fruit and maybe end the day with a Doris Day movie or something close. I want to have coffees with Benjamin and plenty of porch pinochle. John and I are going to need a blanket for stargazing and he will join me in the early mornings on that doggie beach. Meanwhile I am going to try and get all these people I am related to make a list of their own so we can make sure everybody has a summer worth remembering. We have 82 days to spend. It is time to get going….


  • library lady

    I've been making lists these past few months too. Of course, many of my lists are made so that I can remember what I want to do between rooms. Instead of Doris Day, try TWO FOR THE ROAD, or HOW TO STEAL A MILLION.

  • Kate

    One of my relatives asked me at the family reunion this past weekend how I planned to spend my summer. And I said. “If it's sunny, we go to the lake and then I come home and play in the garden. If it's rainy, I read and cook new things.” And really? That's the best kind of summer list I can think of.

  • starrlife

    It's so short when you put it that way! This post reminds me of my childhood- I used to read like 10 books a week from the library! It was so decadent….. Thanks.

  • painted maypole

    oh, great lists. hmmm…thinking what i would put on mine. this is such a summer of turmoil and change, but surely i can make some fun resolutions as well.

    (by the way, MQ is following in your library habits. minus the bike. our library is CLOSE enough to ride to, unfortunately, there is not a safe road or path to get there)

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