It’s going 107 in an 80 zone
I saw the sign yesterday. My first thought was that it meant summer is too fleeting. It certainly feels that way to me every year. I’m all about summer. Fewer clothes, sandals and bare feet, the pool or beach, longer days. Summer always brings me a sense of vacation, even when I work through it. Probably from all the years of school, and then working in a school when my son was growing up.
Long, lazy days stretching out to forever was how it seemed then. Yes, keeping him entertained was a challenge. Meeting that challenge took us to the Michael Jordan basketball camp in Santa Barbara, California for five years, when he was ages 12 to 17, to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for three years, from ages 7 to 9, and to Santa Fe, New Mexico nearly every year.
Each place brought it’s own joys for each of us. At the basketball camps, he made life-long friends, met several NBA greats who gave inspiring talks, and learned the fundamentals of the game. One speech by Mark Jackson spoke directly to my son’s issues with coaches. Both he and my son had been told they were too slow to play basketball. My son believed it until he heard Jackson speak. It led to him playing high school and college ball, and that’s a story all it’s own.
For me, the camp meant beaches. White sand ones in Santa Barbara, and tar streaked ones under majestic cliffs on the UCSB campus. Exploring the boutiques in SB, and the environmentally friendly plants nurtured on the UCSB campus on the way to the cliff beaches. Running my fingers through the flowers swaying in the wind off the ocean. The eye candy of NBA players didn’t hurt either. And getting to watch Michael Jordan play a pick-up game, teach, and challenge parents to free throw contests. He beckoned once, but I was too scared to try. I still don’t know if my son would have cheered for me, or tried to hide.
Santa Fe, New Mexico is my spiritual home, and was the home of my son’s father, so we visited often. The summers were the best. We hiked in Bandolier National Park, climbing the forty foot ladder to the abandoned cliff dwellings of indigenous people. Sitting in kivas and remembering past lives. Seeing elk, deer and moose. Lounging in the hot springs of Ojo Caliente while my son frolicked in the mud bath. Driving to the top of the mountain where we sometimes got to make snowballs in early June.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico was where we stayed two to three weeks for three years in a row. My son’s art abilities got him admitted to the adult art class when he was only eight. He also studied Spanish at the Instituto de Allende where the art classes were held. I wandered the streets practicing my Spanish and gettng to know the locals. The people are so kind and friendly there, that I experienced a minor depression every time we had to go back to the “mean streets” of every day America.
My son learned to play pool there from ex-patriot pool sharks who hung out at our favorite restaurant, La Vida. He was safe there, and admired. Adults treating him like an equal at the pool table made him self-confident enough to seek a place at every table he comes to in any environment.
Summer at home in Texas meant swimming pools, where I watched in unexpressed fear every time he jumped off the high dive. Flipping and changing direction in mid-air, missing the end of the board by mere inches. It meant trips to Austin to swim in the icy waters of Barton Springs. At three, he slipped on the slimy bottom of the natural spring, and mad cried and wanted to leave. We live in Austin now, and he and his buddies go to Barton Springs often. Austin has grown ridiculously, and parking there sucks, so I don’t go as often. But the arching trees over a cold spring overlooking the city skyline is mesmerizing.
Have you noticed that most of our summer activities in Texas were in cooler climates or in water? There’s a reason for that. Summers in Texas often break 100 degrees. For days on end. The day I saw the sign, it was 107 degrees. Or, as my sister likes to say, “It’s 100 and Silly outside.”
Maybe the sign was comparing the temperature to car speed. I thought of that later. But first, the idea of a speeding summer took me down several, cooler, memory lanes. I’ll take those experiences over working in an air conditioned office any and every day.