Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Graduating into Summer

The photo is of my sister Lisa’s graduation ceremony a couple of years ago. Today it symbolizes transitions, like the transition of spring into summer. Notice the fans in the photo . . .

No, by the calendar it isn't summer yet. But anyone living in Memphis knows that the season has arrived ahead of the official date, as usual.

Summer is generally the hardest time of the year for me, at least when I'm living "down South." Which would be all but about six or seven years of my life. I get migraines from the heat and generally feel sapped of energy. I freeze in grocery stores and most restaurants. I sunburn easily and live continually with the knowledge that skin cancer runs in my family. I'm sure most of my eye wrinkles come from these summer months, even though I wear two pair of sunglasses most of the time. I tend to waken too early because the sun comes up so early (this, despite a room-darkening shade), and the lack of sleep can add up.

Summer is terrible for my gardener within, and for my poor plants without. At some point, I generally give up trying to keep them alive, because the heat and drought and slugs just overwhelm me. And then I feel bad for the plants, and start doubting my ability to persevere through trials, and it can become quite a morass if I let myself think too much about it (which I usually don't.)

And then there's the knowing that in Italy and other places, they shut down during the hottest part of the day and take a break like intelligent people--while we have to go on working, even when our circadian rhythm coupled with the heat is begging for a little siesta!

But this year I have made a resolve. I am determined to not merely survive this summer. I am going to find ways to appreciate and enjoy even this most punishing of seasons. I have already begun, in fact.

And I'll save that for another post. For now, if you'd like to share your main summer struggles/complaints, here's the forum. (I'll welcome positive summer comments later, but this is a place for people to feel free to lament the arrival of summer. I trust I am not the only one for whom this is an annual rite of passage.)

And maybe Lisa could comment on why this photo is so appropriate to a summer lament theme.


Lisa said...

To know the appropriateness of that picture, you should not only note the fans, but also the very red faces.

UAM graduation 2005.

Time: 10:00 AM.

Temperature: 98 degrees at the beginning of the ceremony.

Attire: Traditional black gowns and hats, meaning that we soaked up every ray of sun that beat down on us from above.

Location: OUTSIDE!

Length of graduation speech: One full hour. I'm not joking. The man went on and on and on and on and on. His own wife overheated and had to leave the ceremony. The university bookstore was right across the street and they sold out of every cold drink they had. We (the graduates) were passing drinks up and down the rows. Yep, we were sitting there drinking away at soft drinks we didn't like, drinking after people we didn't even know just so we wouldn't DIE from the heat.

I don't anyone who stayed around and took the traditional post-graduation pictures because we were so hot all we wanted to do was go sit down in air conditioning somewhere.

Since then the alumni association has provided free water bottles at all graduation ceremonies. However, the past two years the temperature has been a much more normal 75 degrees. Go figure.

Lawrence Underwood said...

Ah, summer. The muggy, hazy, days of the South. Before air conditioning it was our greatest defense against Yankee invasion!

Seriously, I used to dread summers. However, after living in the frigid winters of Kansas I have learned to appreciate the summer of the Deep South.

Good iced tea really helps!

Lucy said...

Hello Sheila
I found you by chance when i was googling the 'Corn that springeth green' carol which you quoted back at Easter, which someone else mentioned in a comment on a post of mine. What a long and convoluted shaggy blog story!
Any way just to have my 2 cents worth here; we don't have the punishing summers you do, but one of the inconveniences for us is that our dog doesn't like the heat, but does love to come with us everywhere, and leaving her in the car while we drop into the supermarket or whatever ceases to be an option, so everything takes more planning.
Nice to 'meet' you!

Nat said...

L'umidita'. Quella ammazza. Il caldo lo adoro e lo sopporto bene. E' l'umidita' che non reggo. Oggi sono uscita sotto la tettoia nel tardo pomeriggio dopo una giornata passata in casa nell'aria condizionata (che non tengo a temperature glaciali). Era come se mi avessero tirato una martellata in faccia!
E poi non sopporto dover portarmi dietro uno scialle quando vado a mangiare al ristorante perche' so che mi fara' un freddo birbone tanto tengono alta (o dovrei dire bassa?) l'aria condizionata!
Preferisco Firenze dove tutti si lamentano che e' tanto caldo e umido, ma non sanno davvero cosa voglia dire l'umidita'.
E poi le saracinesche! Quanto mi mancano anche quelle! Il buio totale in camera da letto la mattina che non sai se sono le due di notte o di pomeriggio!! Pero' una volta alzata, la luce del sole mi piace proprio! (per la luce presto al mattino hai provato la maschera da notte? a me aiuta quando mi ricordo di usarla!)

Beh, buona estate comunque.