Al Batt: Welcome to summer, start complaining about the heat for the next 93.6 exits

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2023

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Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

The average summer is supposed to have 93.6 days.

Al Batt

We stood outside a restaurant playing whack-a-fly.

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We needed to step aside for a sidewalk squirrel on its way to an important meeting.

We talked of thistle and thatle. He told me he’d been keeping busy tending his livestock. I asked him what he had.

“Summer cows,” he said.

Summer cows? I wondered if that meant he pastured them and then sold them in the fall. My puzzled look gave me away.

“Yup,” he said. “Summer cows, summer pigs and summer chickens. Even got a horse.”

Some are! I had been feeding too many mosquitoes and my Minnesotan-to-English converter was low on blood. Mosquitoes enjoy a full-bodied, robust blood with notes of insect spray.

You throw snow far enough, it turns into a lawn to mow. Growing up, I noticed some families cut the grass and others mowed the lawn. We’d gotten some heavy rains in the area. We had a toad strangler, a goose drowneder, a gullywasher and a trash mover. It led to the unrestrained insanity of lawn mowing.

There are two starts to summer: meteorological and astronomical. Meteorologists and climatologists break the seasons down into groupings of three months based on the annual temperature cycle. Meteorological spring in the Northern Hemisphere includes the 92 days of March, April and May; meteorological summer includes the 92 days of June, July and August; meteorological fall includes the 91 days of September, October and November; and meteorological winter includes the 90 days (91 on leap year) of December, January and February. When it comes to the four seasons, summer warmer than others.

I’m organizing a bake sale to raise enough money to buy two days from winter and give one to spring and the other to fall.

Astronomically, the first day of summer is considered to be the summer solstice that occurs at the moment the earth’s tilt toward the sun is at a maximum and for every place north of the Tropic of Cancer, the sun is at its highest point in the sky and this is the longest day of the year. The first day of summer in North America is Wednesday, June 21. It’s the day when Earth’s gravity pulls humans toward air-conditioned places and teachers to their summer jobs. It’s when we try not to stand too close to the sun.

As a boy, summer was the time I created macaroni art at vacation Bible school. I gathered cardboard or plywood, Elmer’s Glue-All and elbow macaroni to produce wonderful wall hangings by pasting pasta to something that couldn’t escape. Picasso, Schmicasso. My pasta productions were noted macaroni crafts and true art. And I skipped stones at a lake. You’d think all the good skipping stones would be at the bottom of the lakes by now.

My neighbor says it’s not truly summer until he can roast marshmallows over his sunburn and fireflies suffer from glowing pains. Fireflies provide the lights so mosquitoes can see where to bite us. Fireflies evoke a sense of wonder and delight. The light show starts in June and can continue into August. They like damp areas with long grasses, particularly from mid-June through mid-July. They seem to peak around the Fourth of July, but that might be because that’s when I enjoy seeing them the most.

When does summer really begin?

Summer is when we see many little insects. As the insect year progresses, first, we see big insects, then little insects and then big ones again. Bigger insects cope better with cool temperatures. Spring is when the big mosquitoes push the little ones through the screens. Summer is when someone uses a gnatapult to launch the little buggers into my yard.

Summer is hot and muggy days that feel like a cup of tea.

Summer is being in a tent with a loved one and playing, “What’s that noise?”

Summer brings the enchanting sound of wind in the trees and the rustling of leaves is called psithurism. The “p” is silent and the word is pronounced sith-err-iz-um.

It won’t be long before we’re all singing along with the cicadas. Summer slingshots us into fall.

I hope your summer isn’t a bummer.

Al Batt’s columns appear in the Tribune every Wednesday.