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Loving summer

Jun 21, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

In our new season, even an empty day can seem full to the brim

Calvin and Hobbes are climbing a tree.

"Is the coast clear?" asks Calvin. "Give me a boost."

"What's the plan?" asks Hobbes.

Calvin has it all mapped out.

"We wait for Susie to walk underneath this tree, and then we drop the water balloon on her."

"What if she doesn't walk by?" Hobbes wonders.

"Then we just sit in the tree all day."

Hobbes smiles.

"I love summer."

Calvin smiles back.

"The days are just packed."

Summer is here.

These are the days when the sun trails well into the northwestern sky in the evening, almost seeming to roll along the horizon rather than dip below it, all but refusing to set.

In late June, there is discernible, obvious light in the west at 10 p.m., followed by the giant, quiet, starry dome of night. We have five more hours of daylight this week than at Christmastime. Five hours of light. Five fewer hours of darkness.

Summer is here.

What a difference from the sun's meager up-and-down at mid-winter, when our star practically dives out of sight in late afternoon.

Fair warning: Six months from now, it will be dead dark by 5 p.m.

We'll never be further from winter's frozen vice than we are now, and we ought to do something with the opportunity.

Summer is here.

This is the time of year that inspired the much-admired Scottish poet and all-around man of letters Robert Louis Stevenson to write the following poem, which led off his famous "A Child's Garden of Verses" in 1885:

In winter I get up at night

And dress by yellow candle-light.

In summer quite the other way,

I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see

The birds still hopping on the tree,

Or hear the grown-up people's feet

Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,

When all the sky is clear and blue,

And I should like so much to play,

To have to go to bed by day?

There are those of us who walk the same groove in June that we do in January, as if air conditioners and computer screens can neutralize the season so that we barely notice it.

For shame. Summer is here.

There is no fooling the sun, the Earth and its equator. We are being handed hour upon hour of light that takes the day past the bedtime of Stevenson's childhood.

It must be seized and savored, lest we chide ourselves wrapped in winter's shroud.

Summer is here. For heaven's sake, don't go to bed by day.

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