Okay, let’s get this out of the way right off. I don’t like summer. Matter of fact I hate summer. I’ve hated summer since I was a kid, and although I’ve become more tolerant of the heat as I’ve gotten older, I still have no love lost for the season.
I realize this is a very unpopular stance to assume, especially living in a beach community in New England, but I can tell you this: I lived for more than 19 years in Syracuse, N.Y., where the average snowfall was 156 inches a year, so to me living in southern New England in winter is like Florida most of the time. And even with all that central New York snow and lake-effect winds, I was still unhappy when July and August rolled around and 90-degree days brought penetrating heat.
As a little girl growing up in New Jersey our heat was always accompanied by record humidity, and record humidity brought record bugs, especially mosquitoes on leashes, they were so big. Almost no one had air conditioning back then except for movie theatres and big department stores, and my Uncle Sid, who was rich. But he spent most of his time in summer playing golf at his very exclusive country club to which we received a once-a-year token invite for lunch and a swim. But did we sit inside the beautifully air-conditioned, opulent clubhouse? Oh no, we were outside around the pool, with the sun beating down and the country club mosquitoes darting in and out from under our umbrella, which served as a further conductor of humidity.
I did learn one thing about wealthy people in those years and the succeeding ones: rich people don’t sweat. Especially tall, thin blondes. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s in their DNA, but years later friends invited us to Oak Brook, Ill., where each Sunday her dad served as a statistician for polo games. So Dad got us in free, which sounded like fun. Ever go to an open-air event in Illinois in August? It is not pleasant. Yes, we had great box seats, thanks to Dad, but sitting next to us was a tall, thin, blonde dressed in all white. White sneakers, white shorts, and a long-sleeve white sweater! It was well in the 90s that day and not one drop of perspiration fell from her adorable blonde hair line, while I sat there sweating like a pig, drenching my clothes.
As a teenager my friends enjoyed going to the beach, or as they say in Jersey, “down the shore.” It was about a one-hour drive in a non-air-conditioned car, but when you’re a teen, peer pressure gets the best of you, so go I did, even though sitting on hot sand and getting mouthfuls of salty water were not my idea of fun. Somehow Uncle Sid’s country club pool was now a whole lot more appealing.
So, here I am fully grown and living in a place where people spend boatloads of money to come and put their blanket down on a 4 x 5 piece of beach, sandwiched in between others doing the same. Rhode Island has beautiful beaches, ours paramount among them, but I still prefer to summer inside a nice cool restaurant overlooking the water, with a cold glass of Prosecco at my side and no sweat.
To me, the best thing about summer is the promise of what comes after ... leaves turning colors, a snap in the air, and a need to put on a sweater or hoodie as we head toward my favorite holiday of Thanksgiving, and then the holidays.
One of my finest memories is my 7th-grade geography teacher, Mrs. Seitz, who subsequently became a lifelong friend, an advisor and confidant, and one of the most influential people in my life. The woman could never find anything bad in anything. She loved every season, found even a torrential rainstorm “beautiful,” and always had a sunny attitude and a smile to match.
I think of her often, and even though I sometimes caught sight of some sweat on her brow during those Jersey summers, she always said, “Aren’t we lucky to perspire in summer and shiver in winter? It proves we’re still alive in this wonderful world!”
I guess it’s really not so bad to break a sweat ... even if you’re blonde.
Rona Mann has been a freelance writer for The Sun for 17 years, including her “In Their Shoes” features. She can be reached at email@example.com or 401-539-7762.