Archived Story

There are good and bad aspects to summer

Published 9:56am Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Column: Tales from Exit 22, by Al Batt

It arrives just as we’re starting to get over winter.

It’s what we’ve waited for all winter.

It’s what we called global warming when I was a boy.

Summer was our snow removal plan.

Summer is the time to procrastinate outside. A time when gas prices rise because grass grows tall.

Summer begins in June whether spring gives its two weeks’ notice or not.

Back to global warming. It exists. That’s because the world’s population is growing. All those extra people are breathing in the cool air produced by our air conditioning, leaving us with a cool shortage.

When I hear sounds of summer, they cause me to remember. Memories accompany the sound of a screen door slamming shut and the sounds of bare legs on a hot playground slide.

Other sounds delight me. The sound of a cold watermelon being sliced. The drone of a lawn mower that isn’t mine.

The official county blood eagles are flying. Gallon-at-a-time mosquitoes. Whenever a guy goes outside, he realizes that it might lead to bloodshed. When it comes to mosquitoes, two’s company, three billion’s a crowd. Mosquitoes become so thick that if you swing a knife through the air, it draws blood. There are single slap competitions to see who can hit the most mosquitoes. We’ve had years when the mosquitoes were so bad, they robbed a bank. The mosquitoes were so large, folks not only killed them, they grilled them. One skeeter carried away a neighbor’s black lab. We caught the rogue mosquito with a bear trap. People die at the hands of mosquitoes even though mosquitoes have no hands. The mosquitoes are so big they have to file flight plans. The big ones push the little ones through the window screens. Mosquitoes large enough to have wood ticks. I saw a mosquito land on a fencepost and a group of birders took it for a meadowlark. Camping is nature’s way of feeding mosquitoes.

Dr. Jennifer Allen in the movie “Mansquito,” also known as “Mosquitoman,” said, “He’s more mosquito than man by now.”

I’ve been there.

This is the year that I train mosquitoes to drill for oil.

Summer can be hot. The heat often comes with its pal, humidity. At least it’s a wet heat. On a day too hot to have a shadow, the bright sun makes me feel like a french fry. A redheaded friend is capable of becoming sunburned to the point where enough skin peels off to make another person. It was as hot as a hen in a wool basket and hotter than a burning stump as I watched the sun come down in torrents and a funeral procession turn into the drive-through lane of a Dairy Queen. Seat belt buckles become branding irons, and I eat hot peppers to cool off.

One summer, the thermometer boiled dry. Only one drop of rain fell. It hit a neighbor on the head. It surprised him so much that he fainted. It took three buckets of dust to revive him.

The next year, it rained so hard that the neighbor had to swim to work.

Flowers become nectar factories. Birds move across lawns like a kickoff team. Sparrows fly into the noses of cars to eat food fresh off the grill. Cicadas supply buzzy background music. Corn stands tall on the list of things to do. Tree leaves pirouette on their petioles as a storm brews. According to legend, Thor rode the heavens in a goat-drawn chariot inside storms of thunder and lightning. He hoped that his goat could outrun the horseflies and deerflies.

Summer brings strange behavior. I’ve had a moth fly into my ear, causing me to stand by a desk lamp, hoping the intruder would be attracted to the light and fly out. A neighbor who remembers when the township was just a houseboat has taken to wearing Depends on his head to soak up the sweat.

I’m going to pause here to deliver an important message to all the mosquitoes, gnats, ticks and flies. Stop it!

And another important message. Your are worthy of emulation. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

We spend a lot of time wishing one season would end and another start. None of them is a Hallmark card, but we shouldn’t let the calendar interfere with our celebration of the seasons.

It doesn’t give us much snowfall, but summer does have fall waiting.

I leave you with this advice. If you have eyebrows, you’re not grilling enough and never kick dog poop on a hot day.


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.