Summer’s more than half over. That’s what I discovered when, for no reason I can explain, I suddenly stopped and asked myself, When exactly is midsummer? And myself replied, Why are you asking me? You’ve been asking yourself this question every summer, usually around this time, since you were eight, but now you’ve got the internet and you can just look up the answer. Although when you were a kid you could have asked an adult. Sure, some of them might not have known, and some would have thought it was funny to give you an answer like “The thirty-eighth of Cunegonde.” And don’t you feel stupid for not finding out you could ask questions like this at the reference desk in the library until your senior year of college so you spent a lot of time trying to find information on your own?
This is why I don’t talk to myself as much as I used to.
Even though I did wonder when exactly midsummer was when I was a kid most of the time I was too immersed in the joy of summer to stick with the question long enough to ever stop to ask anyone. Besides I didn’t want to waste time worrying about when summer would slip into its downhill slide. That time would come soon enough. I remember the summer morning when I was nine or ten and I woke up and heard neighbors shooting off fireworks. Fireworks were supposed to be for the fourth of July, I thought, so why were they having a breakfast snap, crackle, and pop that had nothing to do with cereal in their driveway? Then I went downstairs and saw the newspaper on the kitchen table and realized it was the third of July—the entire month of June was gone and I hadn’t even noticed. Also that was the previous day’s newspaper, although I’d walk around most of that day still thinking it was the third.
Also when I was a kid seasons seemed very arbitrary. Then I grew up and learned more about how the world worked and came to understand that seasons are completely arbitrary. When I was a kid summer started when school ended, and most of the time that was sometime in late May, but, according to the meteorological calendar, summer this year started June 1st, with midsummer falling on June 24th. Of course when I was a kid autumn didn’t start when school started, which was usually in late August. Summer vacation might be over but as long as the weather was warm and humid we were still in summer. Depending on the weather I wouldn’t think of it as autumn until sometime in early winter.
We’ve had a very mild, at times almost cold, summer this year, with it only just now starting to get really hot. I wear jeans and a hoodie in the house because I’m cold-blooded and we keep the air conditioning pretty well cranked up most of the time, but when I step out into the sunshine and still keep the hoodie on because it’s a bit cool that, to me, is just not summer. In fact it’s been so cool for most of June that one morning, when it should have been sweltering but was actually chilly, I yelled up at the sky, “You could turn down the air conditioning a little!” I knew it wouldn’t change anything, of course, and I even wondered why I was doing it, but I know better than to ask myself questions like that.