|Big Sur Coast, photo by Vern Clevenger.|
The start of no other season transports me to earlier times in the same manner as summer. As Los Angeles began to swelter on Saturday, my thoughts drifted to an A&W Root Beer drive-in, oasis in Paso Robles on the vacation road back to the coast. On Sunday, when our little town was 103 at about 12:30, I recalled Nepenthe's deck above the Big Sur cliffs, our first Ambrosia Burgers with pink lemonade. I also remembered our dad telling us the meaning of "nepenthe," an ancient remedy for banishing grief, sorrow or trouble by inducing forgetfulness.
I have not gone to check my archives but suspect I write nearly the same post every year. Summer's hold on me is that tenacious and I always capitulate to its fierce, mad strength. Not to mention its ability to cloud memory.
So much to contain, all those summers, how is there room for other matters? Once I allow myself, there are multiple reveries over the light, the clothes, the movies, family vacations, Girl Scout adventures, crafts, weekly treks to the library, our series of wading pools and, best of all, free time, its own source of forgetfulness of the homework and autumn yard chores not too far distant. Until then, my sister and brother and I could count on at least one family trip that took us eventually to the sea and included restaurant meals. Pancake houses, Fisherman's Wharf, small town diners, even unfamiliar grocery stores that sold much better stuff than ours did.
More than a time of year, summer is a state of mind, one to which I happily return when prompted by changes subtle or brash. There may yet be days of our June gloom (which does not require banishing), the cooler nights, less fire-prone conditions. I suppose each of the seasons has a trickster aspect, leading us to expect its best and frequently getting conditions far different. While there are odes to every time of the year, I think summer has the edge on endurable. We can talk about rock and roll another time.