sensing sizzling summer sensations

At the beginning of the summer, which began once I took my last final, I resolved to do two things more often: hike the trails listed on"Top Ten" lists in magazines, and read novels deemed to be our "classics" (which has been a puzzle given the Opening and then Closing of the American Mind perspectives). So far, I'm on track.

My son and I have spent the last two-and-a-half weeks conditioning our bodies for major morning hiking by getting dropped off 3 miles from our home and walking back. My partner and I have ritualized every evening by closing out the day with reading. We've finished several novels this way. Although we both have a competitive illness of sorts, we do enjoy our nightly reads. We enjoy the same authors but have points of divergence. For instance, she can and does read Spanish novels and novellas. I, on the other hand, read stuff about fishing, sailing and how to raise a perfect child. The 'perfect child literature' is in my fantasy section! Ever since my partner and I have been together, we've put aside time each evening specifically to read. This is a practice which has been a mainstay for most of my adult life, but as I mentioned earlier, I had resolved to read beyond my evening rituals. So, I visit the community library every other week and grab some of the classics. I'm certain my perspectives are different now than they were in high school and that I will have a different feeling about Dickens and other writers. How could I not?

The summer is young and I remain optimistic and drenched with perspiration. My partner is teaching other teachers how to be better teachers this summer. When she has time off (usually in the form of two or three days) we go on early morning hikes. If we get out after 6:30AM, then we are in for a jolly good time as the heat beats down on our small-pored skin. I mention the pores because they are our God-given ventilation system (whether you have HVAC or a swamp cooler depends on your zip code). I am usually "damp" by the time we reach the top of the mountain, so I end up freezing because of the cool breeze blowing against my pore-enriched skin. We intend to be at the bottom of a mountain by 5AM before the summer is finished. I am a comfortable and relaxed person on most days. Do I dare insinuate the word "lazy" in here with all of its negative connotations? It's true most people don't want to appear as lazy - God forbid in this modern age when there are so many ways to fill one's time. Well, I include myself in that list of "don't want to be's," so I have typed out a list of daily to-do's, and each time I take my son outside for swimming or a walk or a visit to the library, I carefully place that list somewhere on my person where it would most likely fall off my person and therefore be seen by another non-lazy person who is also out and about. Of course the list is doctored (printed daily on clean crisp bonded paper in 14-point font) and most, if not all, of the items of action are completed by my partner (who truly is a list person). All that just to justify my use of the word "lazy" - that indeed was not a lazy endeavor! A lazy place necessitates its own reading list, and every year we travel for Independence day to strand ourselves somewhere secluded to just be as a family. For the past two years, our destination has been Flagstaff, where they have an art walk and don't allow fireworks. (Although this year the restriction compelled a law-breaker to ignite late into the evening just outside our window.) Three years ago we were in DC and celebrated by making camp along the Potomac River, watching the fireworks. My son was three and didn't enjoy the loud explosions, so we had to rethink the whole thing. I feel better about celebrating Independence Day with an act of independence rather than following the crowd. I've never been a good follower, much to my parent's chagrin, as they constantly lined me up right behind the "A" students in grade school. Well, speaking about not following... I seem to have gotten off my main topic, which was reading. I guess you're still reading this, so it must capture at least the aroma (glass half-full). On my list this summer has been mostly classics. However, I am a very visual person and cannot pass up a book with an appealing cover, so some good-looking books have been added at the last minute. A good looking jacket cover gets me every time. Perhaps it is time, finally, for “Harry Potter” - not because it is a classic but because the cover has captivated me. Last summer, a colleague took the final volume with her on a fishing trip, and when she returned, the thick paperback was stained and so waterlogged it had tripled in size. They had weathered the elements together. I resolve to fall asleep by the pool in my damp bathing suit, Potter dropping from my lap into the clear, cool pool to be fished out during another swim, dried slowly in the sun, and then read. I resolve to have excellent follow-through.

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