Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Summer Vacation

I don't know who ever dubbed it "summer vacation". Summer is most certainly not a multi-month holiday or anything that us Americans assume much of Europe is like. In reality the "vacation" is an archaic remain of an agrarian society where kids were needed at home to help tend crops. Farming is now technologically advanced to the point that many farm kids have three months to kill.

Better synonyms to describe triple-entente of June, July and August are chaotic, busy, stressful, fast paced, hot, tired, crabby, bug-laiden and "when does school start again?". That said, it's not all awful. I do enjoy the extra time with the kids.

They are at good ages where they are agreeable to most things. When they're not I still have enough clout to move them along as I feel necessary. There are a lot of fun activities we've partaken in as well: fishing, bonfires, camping, basketball, pickleball, swimming, bike rides, yard projects (as I call them "alternative" workouts), concerts and fireworks. I even made a run to Wisconsin this year to get a decent cache of gun powder laiden confections. I was a regular pyrotechnics expert in July, complete with the couple of finger burns to prove it.

I think above all things, summer is distracting. I put in long days and long hours at work and still have daylight to spare. The kids and I were able to congregate on the local fishing pier until after 9:00pm (21:00 for all you 24hr clock keepers). We were only typically subdued by that most archetypal of Minnesota pests, the mosquito. There were enough red bumps to go around. The fortunate part about MN bugs is they are purely a summer pest and don't typically carry the tropical diseases that we hear about in the rest of the world (Zika virus, in particular this year due to the Brazil Olympics hysteria).

Still they are enough to end a decent evening on a dock where the kids are reeling in sunfish using the smallest hooks I could find and something the kids referred to as "fishy nibbles" (Berkeley "Crappie Nibbles"). These are essentially fish-flavored mini-marshmallows that glow enough for the kids to see what's going on with the bait. While they pulled in a dozen or so panfish, I would fish with crank baits and try to pull in something bigger...even worth keeping. For some reason my son wants to try to gut and cook a fish. I may let him, but I need to pull in a decent one first.

The summer is also filled with an overabundance of projects. This year, my crumbling driveway was replaced and widened (props to mom and dad for the gift enabling this). I removed rock and put mulch and small boulders along my front walk. I expanded my garden. I planted lots and lots of grass-seed. Indoors, I reinstalled my closet system, I made headway on my basement renovation and I made numerous small repairs.

Some travel took place this summer as well. I visited my aunt and uncle in northern-ish MN, I went to San Francisco for a conference. I'm planning on some more camping here shortly. This is the first summer I haven't traveled to Montana for a few years. I hope to make that an every-other year endeavor again.

More interestingly, I got ordained to be able to officiate my sister's (and anyone else's) marriage in MN. I also got to see Metallica in concert for the first time since 2009. My 20th high school class reunion was this year. I missed it. As far as such things go, I always find myself half-in and half-out with wanting to attend. I love reconnecting with old friends, but groups often exact and energy penalty on me. The week following the reunion I spent in doubt and self-resentment. Perhaps I should have gone. At least I can make a goal to connect with old friends on a more individual basis.

Summer is very full. I often forget that most of these experiences are good things. Things that make life enjoyable. As my girlfriend says, I "don't sit still very well".  I guess I shouldn't complain if that's my nature. For now, however, I could use a day or two to clear my head.

While the school schedule is something I think I'm desiring at the moment, I'm sure by Halloween I'll wish it were summer.