Sometimes I wonder
What I’m-a gonna do
Cause there ain’t no cure
For the summertime blues
– Eddie Cochrane, “Summertime Blues”
Summer is here and it always comes as an explosion. At the time of this writing we are nearing the ultimate pinnacle of the sun in the Northern Hemisphere, June 21, the summer solstice, the brightest day of the year.
At the time of the winter solstice we are celebrating Christmas and a series of international holidays. But when the summer solstice comes around, summer itself is the celebration. What more is needed? It’s summertime!
We’ll go swimmin’ every day
No time to work just time to play
If your folks complain just say
– Tom Jameson, “Summertime Summertime”
All winter we wait for that moment when the weather gets so warm you can go out without a coat – unencumbered! Free! I remember as a school kid how we would burst out of the school building at summer vacation, slamming noisily through the metal doors like a herd of stampeding buffalo. It was the year’s most glorious occasion.
Trees that were bare and scraggly a couple of months ago have burst forth with a voluptuous growth of new, velvety leaves that shimmer in the sun on tender new branches that reach out like sensory antennae.
The Time is Right
The onset of summer has given rise to a whole genre of songs to celebrate it. Just as there are new Christmas songs every year, there are also new summer songs to add to a growing body of material that goes back generations.
Most are songs of joy and celebration. “Summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the street.” “Summertime and the livin’ is easy.”
It’s the annual unleashing. School is out. Many businesses go into lighter workloads for summer. But some tourist businesses only get going in the summer. They are part of the celebration. Summer is when most people take their big annual vacation. The words “summer” and “vacation” are almost synonymous.
A Summer Unlike Any Other
So where does this leave us now in 2020, the year in which everything has turned upside down? After three months of lockdown, the feeling of being cooped up is even more intense than usual.
But the Coronavirus is still with us so as we ease back into traveling again we’ll be doing it a little differently, observing different kinds of precautions than we ever thought about previously. But already those kinds of precautions have become built into our ways of doing things. I’m confident that we’ll all adapt as easily as we did to seatbelts or any of a thousand other changes we have incorporated into our lives during our lifetimes.
Those of us who feel strongly compelled to travel will find ways to have those experiences, and we’ll cultivate new kinds of awareness about what safety and security mean now.
The essence of the travel experience is not based on how far you go, it’s an attitude. It’s how you approach things. Travel is about discovery. I can get some of the joys of travel in my home area if I have the right attitude. Even while observing the strictest safety measures, I can experience many of the pleasures of travel, if I am receptive.
My previous travel experience has heightened my sensitivity to what I see in my own familiar environment. A traveler’s life is enriched not only when traveling, but in the time between trips.
This is a time when we are confronting many new and unfamiliar things. It is challenging and we must call upon our adaptive resources. But new experiences and challenges are part of the reason people travel. So those adaptations will become part of the experience of travel in 2020.
In all the crises of the past I have noticed that for people who love to travel the impulse is strong and resilient. When faced with obstacles it proves to be highly adaptable. When conditions change, travelers don’t stop traveling, they change the way they travel. The urge to travel is a constant flow like water, and when one channel is closed, it finds another.
The joy of discovery can take place close to home by just looking at things you have not looked at before or looking in new ways. For me this has been a time to take advantage of things I might not otherwise have thought of, discoveries that are within reach that may have been previously overlooked.
Celebrating America’s Birthday
The next national holiday is July 4, Independence Day, America’s birthday. This year it seems more important than ever to look back at the ideals that powered the building of the American Republic, and to try to remind ourselves of the common principles that bind us together as a people.
Th Founders of America created a way to build a country on principles, not bloodlines. And that has attracted people from all over the world to come and participate, to become Americans in spirit and in fact.
The American Revolution showed the world a more enlightened way to organize a society. The principles spread around the world, so much so that today most countries are some variation of a republic. The American republic was the model for countries the world over. It’s something to treasure and be grateful for. It’s a common legacy that should give us something to draw us together.
Today is a good time to reassert our common values and remember the legacy we share as Americans.
I think this Independence Day is a very important one. I’m sure many others share my wish that we might use the occasion to try to remember how to be good fellow citizens, who may disagree but can still be civil to one another and respect each other’s rights.
Happy Birthday, America, and many happy returns.
Your Humble Reporter,
A. Colin Treadwel