It is the first day of summer. No really. Check the calendar or the thermostat.
If it is summer, there must be the sweet aroma of a freshly cut yard that will require mowing in just another seven days because of the rain that falls every afternoon from June through September. Who's complaining? It beats a brown lawn, exorbitant water bills and the need for officers to patrol and ticket clandestine water abusers.
It is a time to make use of the swimming pool. No need to heat it. Just add chlorine and a float. An umbrella drink isn't a bad accompaniment, or a Popsicle if you are young or young at heart. Don't worry about getting sticky from the melting confection, just jump back into the pool.
If it is summer, it is pleasant eating: Corn on the cob, the good stuff, not the soggy microwaved niblets we have to tolerate much of the year; fresh tomatoes and other delicacies — some of which you are nurturing in your own garden. If not, there is a produce stand, or somebody retailing out of the back of a pickup truck, on many a corner or right of way.
(Cookouts are more frequent and the hot dogs go down much easier when grilled instead of boiled. The iced tea seems more refreshing, too.)
Across from the produce stands, incidentally, sit a familiar, twice-a-year sight: tents covering fireworks vendors. If it is summer, it is time for the annual fight over fireworks sales and amateur displays. The first day of summer is actually the midpoint for this Pasco dispute. The roadside tents appeared 14 days ago and the complaints will crescendo in 13 more. Grab the dog, ear plugs and a hose.
Speaking of fireworks, you know it is summer because the price of gasoline skyrockets by more than 40 cents per gallon over a month's time. We pay it because we're pleased to be able to take a road trip away from the job grind.
It also is government budget time. If you're in the public sector, this summer you are wondering if you'll still be employed come Oct. 1 or be out of a job even sooner if you're in public education. If you're a teenager, you may already know the feeling. Summer job opportunities are scarce for students looking to earn some between-semester cash.
It is time to relish shirtsleeves in the bleachers at baseball games in open-air stadiums. Or, soak up the air-conditioned comfort of Tropicana Field if you're partial to the major leagues. If you prefer the kids, summer is when the Little League All-Stars take the field in what has grown into an ESPN-fueled phenomenon culminating in August in Williamsport, Pa.
Summer is for joy reading. Mindless entertainment in paperbacks is matched only by the visual escapism offered at the multiplex.
If it is summer, it is time for an annual trip north that could mean up to 45 hours in the vehicle and lots of aspirin consumption. It is a time to forget about the household budget, at least temporarily, and live beyond your means, at least for a day or two.
Summer also brings with it the spike in power bills — if you're not on balanced billing — as air conditioners, pool pumps and children's video games run significantly longer than the rest of the year.
It is time for a week or longer at summer camp if you're a kid, though fewer seem to be partaking this year due to the recession.
Outdoor exercise becomes less frequent as the recommended walks are compressed into early morning or late evening sessions to avoid the heat and humidity.
It is the period of the year when teenagers go into hibernation until noon each day, at which point they commence eating breakfast while the rest of us are pondering lunch.
Then again, there could be a method to this slumbering madness. Maybe the teenagers are just snoozing until someone else tackles the lawn. Waking up to that fresh-cut grass smell isn't such a bad idea.