I've listened to the same radio station for nearly 20 years. Well, ok, so I'm not consistent. I dabble in other dial stops. I crank up the CDs. Sure. However, if I'm in the car during the morning rush-hour block, I have my same old station on. This particular cast of characters has been hosting the morning drive show for over a decade.
Every year they kick off the summer the same way. The Friday of Memorial Day weekend is broadcast live from the beach just up the road from me. Each year, at roughly the same time, the traffic guy pays tribute to summer, his youth, and Springsteen as he introduces Born to Run. I hear those first few notes start to play and I spin my finger along the dial to pump the volume louder. I sing along and smile, thinking, "I've driven up Highway 9!"
This morning I missed the broadcast. The only place I can get this particular station in clearly is my car. The radio in our living room never gets a clear enough single on anything out of the county and even that is questionable since we moved the unit around and failed to reconnect the antenna properly. I never think to pull the station up on the computer. If we're in the house it's CDs, it's TV or it's nothing.
I wasn't in the car when they were blasting off into summer.
I also wasn't on any major highway in town long enough to feel the summer crunch. Today is when the flood gates open. Now that I don't work on Fridays, I avoid the major highways like the plague in the summer. Everyone and their stock-pile of beach-related gear heads south the moment they can sneak out of work on a Friday. Those that don't do so as soon as possible Saturday morning.
If we go over to the beach, we roll out of bed and right head over. We can be on our way home by the time *they* start showing up. We stick to local roads. We avoid the mall and movie theatres on rainy weekend days.
We were home for the day by the time the higher volume of cars was starting to materialize.
Today also marks the time when most of our beaches go from free and easy to where's your badge please. We don't go to the beach much in season and so I don't tend to have a badge. When we go, we use the State park's beach. We have the pass on the car for that.
I didn't step foot on a beach that required a badge and so I didn't experience the shift there either.
I didn't do any of the things today that normally remind us that the unofficial start to summer has arrived - that we've kicked off the "money-making tourist" season.
And yet, I had enough reminder without all that. It started out gray and cool. It was even foggy on the bay when the kids and I burnt off energy at the playground. It was warm with a slight cool breeze when we chased ducks along the boardwalked river front. We wore our shorts anyway.
By afternoon it was edging in on hot. Meg and I took a walk while the boys took time to play. She caught sight of a sprinkler running. It fascinated her. The girl does not stop talking often, but especially not when we're walking. It's a running commentary for the mile or more we go (too much longer and we have to fight about the stroller.)
I wiped a bead of sweat from my brow. Brainstorm! "Hey, Meg! When we get home we can put our sprinkler on in the backyard. If you want to put on a swim diaper and your bathing suit you can run through it."
It sounded like a great plan to her. She talked about it the rest of the walk. She talked about it as we climbed the stairs to our front door. She ran to tell Daddy and Logan about it. She went back and forth between her two suits before finally pointing to the pink checked one with flowers. "Me wear that one," she said.
We got out back. I hooked up the sprinkler. Turned it on. She ran in to get Logan. Begging him to join her. I followed him down the hall to help him into his suit. Bruce waited outside with Megan.
I heard her as Logan and I were about to walk into the yard.
Blood curdling screams followed by, "I WANT MOMMY!"
She stood there in tears, her arms outstretched begging me to lift her up. She buried her head in my shoulder and sobbed, "Rain cold!"
Logan, however, happily darted in and out of the sprinkler all afternoon. Meg refused to change out of her suit. She was quite content to model it for us, just not to put it to use running through the sprinkler.
Instead, three of us laid in the green grass and watched clouds drift across the sky. The sound of Logan's laughter lulling us to a peaceful state. It was certainly summer time in our yard. And that's the only reminder I needed.