How Was Your Summer?

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How Was Your Summer?

Generally, my gym is a rather quiet place. There is conversation, of course, but it’s usually low-key, among friends. The discussion does get louder when it is between relative strangers.

We are also a fairly small group. Although large in size, the weight room is often under populated. Ironically, it is most quiet when there are more people working out. There is also the constant drone (?), hum (?), beat of hip-hop music in the background so I wouldn’t say that we’re working out in a monastery.

So conversations between fellow weight-lifters are pretty easy to pick up. Just the other day, one of the few regular female members struck up a conversation with a younger male member while resting between repetitions on the weights.

This person, like one other female look-alike member of the same age, is paper thin and wiry. Her need for weight-lifting, which she does regularly and passionately, must be psychological in origin. At least, without knowing her better, this is what I think.

They were talking about the summer. In a loud voice she started complaining. “I don’t even feel as if there’s been a summer,” she whined. The young man she was talking to agreed (of course). “I’m still waiting for it to come,” she continued. When she again took up her weights – heavy, from my point of view, for such a small body – she must have put some of her frustration into her motivation to swing her arms vigorously over her head.

This got me thinking about how we rate our summers. First of all, we must put a lot of pressure on those few months – part of June, all of July and August, and part of September – to bring us to some kind of physical and mental ecstasy. Perhaps we remember our youth, times of summer camp or travelling with our parents to the ocean. Or maybe we just hung out with our friends, playing basketball or baseball or skipping rope. The endless evenings chatting on our balconies with neighbours.

So admittedly, the summer of 2013 has been a cool one. There has been lots of rain. Personally, I feel relieved about the rain. It means no watering in our vegetable garden. I also feel comforted because, in other years where there has been a drought, I have gotten concerned hearing that the Saint Lawrence River was very low. If this year’s rain hasn’t elevated the level of the Saint Lawrence then nothing will.

But we did have our sweltering nights, didn’t we? Didn’t my wife and I steam through a couple of nights with barely anything on? (It obviously wasn’t enough for the woman I overheard in the gym…)

Living in the country for the weekends, as well as the one-week vacation that I took, it is impossible to lament the non-arrival of summer. How can I feel that summer has not arrived with all the grass-cutting that I have to do? Cooler weather means that I’m not shvitzing every time I push the mower over my humungous lawn. Summer means weeding and tying up the tomatoes and tilling, all done outside, of course. It means hopping into the pond after a sweaty overextended afternoon in the fields and then drying off in the sun on the deckchair.

Summer means cycling to work every day.

“Cycle to the gym,” I thought as I hopped on my bike for home, enjoying the warm sun on my bare arms, the very day I overhead the above conversation. “You won’t feel that summer’s not here.”

I have another suggestion for this person: plan a weekend away, in the country. Book a B&B close to a provincial or national park. Spend the day canoeing (good for the shoulders and bicep muscles). Lounge at the public beach there. Enjoy a nice dinner at a terrace in the quaint village close by the park. Munch on corn on the cob. Swat mosquitoes.

If it takes more than it used to in order to enjoy and appreciate a summer that’s been a little on the cool and rainy side, then so be it. You’re older now. Summer bliss doesn’t come as easily as it once did. You have ambitious hopes for the summer?

Do something about it!

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