So as the summer of ’15 turns the corner from June into July, my mind turns to summers past, trying to reckon if this summer’s heat is equal to that of last year’s, if its sunshine is as bright as that of twenty years ago, or if its pleasures are the same as those of forty years ago.
It’s sometimes tough to keep track of the years, just like anything is when enough similar items accumulate: When I was twenty, or even when I was forty, I knew what albums I had in my collection. When I was at the record store or the pawnshop or even the flea market and I ran across a record that looked interesting, I’d know without thinking about it whether it was already on the shelves at home.
These days, I don’t always know. The other day, the Texas Gal and I were wandering around a second-hand shop west of downtown. She looked over the fabric scraps and the recliners while I poked around the books and the CDs. In the latter place, I found a sealed copy of the Indigo Girls’ 1990 album Nomads Indians Saints. Thinking that I might not have a copy of it, I paid something like two bucks and brought it home. Of course, it was already on the shelf.
It’s no big deal. It was only a couple of bucks, and I’ll likely drop the extra copy off at the library bookstore, and the Friends of the Library can sell it for a buck. But it shows that the more one has of something, the harder it is to keep track of them. It’s true of records and CDs. And it’s true of summers.
A game I sometimes play with myself at quiet times is to recall what I was doing during various portions of my life: I might find myself lazing about in, say, October, and try to recall Octobers past. What was I doing in October 1969? Or October 1992?
I was playing that little game the other day with summers in mind. There are – as I’ve noted here before – some summers that have memories stacked on memories. But the nearer summers are to the present, the less they seem to stand out: For many, I recall where I was living and – in the years through 1999 – where I was working but little more than that. The summers since 1999 – for the most part – are even more indistinct. For someone who relies a lot on memory for his writing and for his navigation through life (though much less so now than in the past), that might be troublesome. But I’m not finding it so.
This summer, unless I’m horribly wrong, will be very much like the last several: We’ll water the garden and eventually pick tomatoes and cucumbers and more. We’ll grill a few times. We’ll spend a portion of as many evenings as we can in lawn chairs with beverages at hand. We’ll go to the farmers’ market downtown several times and maybe spend an evening at the county fair.
And if there’s nothing specific that makes this summer all that much different from the ones that have come before it, well, that’s fine. It’s summer, and it’s sweet no matter what, and that’s what I will remember during the next winter and all the seasons that follow it.
So here’s “Summer” by War. A single version of the tune went to No. 7 in 1976, but this is the version that showed up on the group’s greatest hits album that same year, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.