“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.”
The seductive melody and laid back lyrics of this song from the musical “Porgy and Bess” harken back to summers of yesteryear. George Gershwin’s haunting music feeds the soul as the song conjures a relaxed state of being that no longer exists. Not for children and certainly not for adults, which is our loss.
Once the tune settles in your brain, it plays on a neverending loop conjuring visions of long ago lazy summer days with nothing to do but enjoy life. The words by DuBose Heyward grab you and make the listener yearn for what summers ought to be, peaceful and safe, instead of the continual rushing around, dealing with schedules, appointments, and harried vacations of today.
Some may recall playing outside until dark thirty. Kids played kick the can on the street because it was safe and everyone kept an eye on the children, including the rare drivers who ventured into neighborhoods. No pressure. No helmets. And no children encased in bubble wrap. Just relaxing and having fun. In other words, kids were allowed to be kids. Free to create their idea of usually harmless fun.
Kids gathered between houses thinking no one could see them as they opened a can of dog food to taste the contents. Or, they roamed the neighborhood taking a few crabapples from neighbors’ trees for a taste comparison. They ate their fill, sometimes until too many apples made little tummies ache.
Now back to reality.
Today, if kids take apples from a neighbor’s tree, the neighbor would call 911 to report juvenile delinquent behavior, in this case, theft. Grownups mired in too much busy have forgotten the joys of simple pleasures. Grumpy and mean rules the neighborhood, along with those high privacy fences. One has to be an acrobat to climb high enough to see over and lean on for a neighborly chat.
Another reality check is this summer’s toasty temperatures.
Last weekend, the temperature at our home in North Texas reach 120. Later it dropped to a balmy 107 until late in the evening. Under those conditions, the song should be “Summertime, and the people are comatose from the heat.”
After listening to yet another “official” weather report, this writer contacted the local and respected meteorologist.
“Dear Mr. Weatherman,
On July 22nd, our Accurite (the name brand) thermometer system registered 120. In fact, until that day, we have had a steady diet of at least 112 degrees every day for weeks.
It may not be the official DFW temperature, but believe me, it was officially hot.”
“Thanks for contacting us. I don’t doubt your thermometer a bit. Depending on sun exposure and the buildup of heat in concrete paving of patios and driveways, registered temperatures can vary widely. For the record, official temperature observations are supposed to be taken at a height of two meters, in the shade with limited wind exposure in the middle of a large grassy area, but even those standards are flexible depending on location.
Thanks again for your email. Your infallible weatherman.”
“Dear Mr. Weatherman,
Our thermometer consists of two gauges. One is set up in our back pasture, under the eaves of a log cabin in the shade facing south. At no time does the wind or sun hit it. The corresponding indoor element indicates current outside temperature, the highest temperature for the day as well as the indoor temperature, among other things.
Where we live, there is almost zero concrete (except for the house slab). Our home is on a hill. In fact, there is always a light breeze year round.
Over the years, the temperature at our house was always 10 to 15 degrees less than in the city. This summer has been the toastiest exception.”
Oddly enough, the infallible weatherman did not reply. What a shame, an extended dialogue might have been entertaining.
The takeaway from our email conversation is that no matter how well-educated meteorologists may be, Mother Nature is fickle and rarely cooperates with weather guesstimates.
A comfortable job which is content with a mere 50 – 50 accuracy.