Sunday, August 19, 2007

My Love-Hate Relationshiop with Summer

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the summer season. Going back to my childhood, I remember loving summer because, well, school was out. Summertime meant I had free time to play and have fun without having to worry about homework or studying for tests (not that I really worried about those things too much anyway).

It was no different when I was in college and, later, when I became a teacher. Summer was my free time. And except for those years when I was working on my master’s degree, I always took the entire summer off. There were no part-time jobs for me. I enjoyed my free time too much.

I look at summer break as kind of an annual preview of retirement and I’ve come to realize that, unlike a lot of retirees like my mom who must find a part-time job to retain their sanity, I believe I can remain perfectly sane and never work again. But I digress.

The other aspect of summer I have always enjoyed is that it is vacation season. As a kid, summer vacation meant going to visit relatives in Kentucky. We never went anywhere else. I spent my entire childhood in and around Edinburgh with a couple of trips to Kentucky each year.

When I was old enough, I started planning vacations for the family. I had the entire itinerary written out for a trip to Florida. We never went. Finally, the summer after I graduated, Dad finally took us on a vacation to the state in the opposite direction of Kentucky. We went to Michigan, more or less following my pre-planned itinerary.

So summer really has its good side for me. The free time, the vacations, and did I mention the free time?

But then there is summer’s other face, the Mr. Hyde of summer. I have always really hated heat. There are a few people who don’t mind the hot, humid days of summer, but I’m not one of them. Most people admit they don’t like it hot and humid, but they accept it because it’s part of Indiana’s climate and there’s not much that can be done about it.

I can’t do anything about the climate either, but I probably have always hated heat and humidity more than most Hoosiers, even as a kid. Kids care nothing about the heat. When I was a preteen, I don’t really remember caring how hot it got as long as I could go out and play.

But somewhere during my teen years, the summer heat really started to bother me. I became interested in the weather back then. It was my main hobby. I would keep weather records every day and report them to the state’s climatologist as a voluntary observer. And I became keenly aware of the variations in temperature.

Summer temperatures were no fun. I remember long stretches of days in the 90s. I can even remember a few when it got about 100 degrees. I yearned for a return to the cooler autumn weather, even if it did mean going back to school.

In central Indiana, it gets to 90 degrees or higher an average of 17 times during a normal year. Recently, most summers have had fewer than 17 days of 90-degree weather. We’re making up for it this year. And I hate it.

School is back in session; that typically heralds a return to cooler weather. But my classroom is in a building that is undergoing major renovation, and I have no air conditioning. So not only is the worst part of summer still upon us, but I have to endure it while in school.

Ok, so there are worse things than having to endure a hot classroom for a few weeks. But as I’m sweltering in the heat while trying to keep 35 eighth graders in line, I can’t really think of what those things might be.

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