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Thrills of summer

I like summer rain. Not at noon when everyone wants to be outside in the sunshine swimming, if you are lucky enough to be at the beach. But after the sun sets, when the world is dark and lightning brightens the sky only to be followed by the pred...

I like summer rain. Not at noon when everyone wants to be outside in the sunshine swimming, if you are lucky enough to be at the beach. But after the sun sets, when the world is dark and lightning brightens the sky only to be followed by the predictable strike of thunder. We count the seconds between light and sound to guess how far the storm is from us - one thousand one, one thousand two …

I like bug bites. They’re the result of spending time outside playing too much croquet, or badminton or golf, or bocce or whiffle ball. We have so much fun and are so intent on swatting balls or shuttlecocks, we forget about swatting bugs.

Until later, when we are inside; then I like anti-itch cream. I like it a lot.

I like running out of Popsicles or ice cream. It means we’ve been indulging in frozen concoctions to cope with the heat of summer’s long days. We may even skip a meal because we are outside playing and instead supplement with treats from the freezer. Ice cream for lunch equals joy.

I like running out of toilet paper. It happens when everyone is home and … well … feeling at home. I add bonus points to this merry moment if everyone remembers to flush. I like when everyone flushes. It feels miraculous, because I believe it is.

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I like weeds. In another universe, they may be expensive, coveted plants (although, I doubt it). Here, on earth, in my yard, I have the opportunity to ban them from the garden - even though they are unruly and refuse to obey humans. Weeds are good because they provide me with a worthwhile task - pulling them.

I like sand on the kitchen floor, bathroom floor, carpet, the dog’s and kids’ hair, my bathing suit. You name it. Sand can be everywhere during the summer months. I think it may even self-multiply. But it indicates one thing, the beach. And the beach - in a word - is good. Well, that and wet and sandy.

I like standing in line to ride the roller coaster. It means I am at an amusement park and that is amusing. Queuing up (a fancy term, I learned during a Disney visit) allows me to anticipate the fun. It prolongs the entertainment and gives me more bang for my buck. Standing in line is at the heart of the free amusement park experience. Sometimes, I just stand in line, without buying a ticket to ride, but not often.

I like sweating in the summer sun. It means I am burning calories, even if I am just sitting in a lawn chair with a good book. Burning calories is always a positive thing for someone my age because once you reach the middle years, your middle tends to expand and your metabolism tends to deflate. I once gained 3 pounds after a brief glance toward a piece of chocolate cake, so a little sweat is welcome.

I like a wet swimsuit butt that will not dry - even though it is 90 degrees outside - because the humidity is also at 90 percent, so your backside remains damp on the lawn chair, while you read that good book. You could go in and change, but you don’t. Wet swimsuit butt is a rite of summer that shouldn’t be squandered.

I like a farmer’s tan. It says I’ve been outside doing something that is something - beyond sitting in a lawn chair with a good book. It also indicates I’ve been sweating because doing something in the summer invariably involves sweat. A farmer’s tan is almost like killing two birds with one stone. (Not that we encourage bird murder in my neighborhood. I like birds.)

I like cleaning the kitchen 17 times a day because the kids are home from school and they are (and I’m not exaggerating) perpetually hungry. Despite finding the frying pan in the sink (again) and an ongoing inability to keep the fridge stocked, I like having them home during the summer. When the house is full, so is my heart. (Cheesy, I know.)

I like cheese all year long. No explanation needed.

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Summer is humidity, sticky skin, burnt shoulders, pollen, allergies, hot car seats, fruit flies on bananas, bees in your lemonade, wood ticks on your leg, ants in your kitchen, mosquitoes in the air and gnats in your nose. It is also a time to ride with the top down, walk barefoot, grill dinner, eat fresh berries, run through the sprinkler, soak in the sun, spend time together and see the glass as half full - preferably with your favorite summertime beverage. Cheers.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author.

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