Ana Veciana-Suarez

Ana Veciana-Suarez: Ah, the freedom of summer

Surely no season ushers in insouciance so completely as summer. Not spring, with its profusion of violent colors. Not fall, with its muted light and dwindling temperatures. And certainly not winter, with is endless blizzards and nor’easters. The swirling snow and leaden skies make even those of us who live in temperate climates feel both smug and guilty.

Oh, but summer. We all share in the sunshine, the heat, the long days so full of promise.

Yes, I know. It’s only early June, days away from the summer solstice. The calendar hasn’t officially flipped the switch from spring. No matter. I trust the twin gauges of humidity and temperature to spell it out for me: S-U-M-M-E-R. (Frizzy hair is a pretty good measure, too.)

Summer always makes me feel like a kid. A little looser, a little freer, a little lighter.

I’m still working, of course. I’m still putting in the hours, writing the sentences, reading the news, managing the sometimes conflicting demands of editors, but the pace seems slower, less harried. Blame it on lightweight cotton and strappy footwear. Sandals, I’m convinced, relax the brain, especially when worn in the confines of an office. This may sound totally shallow but I find that exposed toes, be they painted fire-engine red or royal purple, make me happier. They signal confidence, optimism.

In the hot months when school is out and children are free from educational strictures, more workers absent the office to enjoy time with family. Roads are less congested, especially around the ubiquitous school zones in my neighborhood. I never underestimate the importance of a smooth commute to my general mood. As a feel-good bonus while driving, I also replace radio news, often a downer under the best conditions, with my salsa CDs. Talk about happy feet!

In the office, those at their desks have either returned from languorous vacation or are daydreaming about the pleasure of umbrella drinks at poolside. The change in attitude is evident in the caramel color of their tanned arms but also in the newfound forbearance we have for each other’s annoying idiosyncrasies. The anticipation of leaving, even if only for a long weekend, makes the snarkiest of bosses or colleagues sound amusing.

My children are grown and long gone, so the school calendar no longer influences how I view or plan for the season. Now the bookends of summer are two holidays: Memorial Day in the beginning, Labor Day at the finish. In between I keep my own silly rituals.

I always swim in the ocean. Hatted and slathered with sunblock, I float around like a buoy until my fingertips turn prunish. I also gargle with seawater in honor of my mother who believed there was no ailment or infection it couldn’t cure. She was right about a lot of things, and I don’t doubt her on this, either.

I often chase down mid-afternoon coffee with a scoop of ice cream, the creamier the better.

I wear tank tops.

I talk retirement.

I buy fireworks.

I eat cold watermelon for dinner. It’s not only low in calories but it’s also replete with all kinds of wonderful nutrients. Capped off by a mango, peeled and eaten over the kitchen sink, this meal is more than easy fare for a slow, lazy slide into night.

A taste of heaven, summer style — does it get any better than that?