Monday, March 7, 2016

The Summer itch

It happens before the poison ivy comes into full bloom and before the mosquitos emerge from the stagnant water of spring. It comes before the bee stings and the sunburn that you want to rub even though you know the pain will skyrocket with the very first touch. It is the summer itch, the unscratchable sensation that you are ready for our warm season to be here to stay.
My parents are born and raised Clevelanders. In their retirement, they decided to move to a sunny Carolina climate and have lived there for the past 10 years before returning home to Ohio. This is their first real spring back in the Buckeye State, and I want to pass them some hydrocortisone cream because oh boy, they are itchy.
“I went to the nursery and bought some plants for my garden. They told me not to plant them yet, but I don’t want to wait and I looked at the long range forecast and…”
I had to cut her off.
“Mom,” I said. “Have you completely forgotten what Ohio is like in early May? We could very well have a snow day tomorrow.”
“But the long range forecast is…”
“Is something that meteorologists must laugh about because spring weather is so very unpredictable. Give your tomatoes a chance to live. Wait.”
My parents aren’t the only one to start pretending summer is in full swing on the first day the mercury hits the upper 70’s. I’m not sure there is a kid out there who isn’t counting the days until the end of school. Not because he or she doesn’t like school, not because they are so tired of that one teacher or the homework. They just want summer. They long for the heat, the sprinkler, the ability to leave the house without it taking fourteen minutes to bundle up because the threat of frostbite this winter was real.
Even more than that, they want the freedom of summer. They want to wake up and drive me absolutely crazy and then venture off into a land of imagination and exploration. They want to spend their days doing things they want to do and their afternoons and evenings not running from piano lessons to sporting events and community meetings. They crave the unscheduled life.
And they aren’t alone. For as many lunches as I pack per week, for as many times as I say, “did you do your homework? Is it actually in your backpack?,” I’ve got a bad case of the summer itch myself. As much running as we seem to do as a busy family of five, I am ready for life to slow down. Maybe then I’ll be able to watch my children grow right along with my tomato plants.

Pass me the anti-itch cream, please. Double strength.

Originally written/published 5.3.15.

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