This is the best part: All of summer lies ahead


Hardly any summer lives up to its hype.

How could it, when we’ve waited nine months for school to be out, slogging through dark, snowy days and freezing weeks? We’ve waited for the warming breeze, the gentle waves, the fresh cherries and soft-shell crabs. We waited, and here it is … now! All this freedom is too wonderful to grasp.

Our vacation time from work lies ahead, too, and we want our adventures, and our kids’ camps, and the rentals in the mountains or by the shore to be restorative and fun. In June it’s still possible that the big family reunion in the Poconos will be a life-altering love fest. In June, the outdoor concerts are still anticipatory joy.

These are the best days of summer, when everything is possible. Here, pinned to this spot in time, there are no rampaging wildfires, no floods, no hurricanes, no Covid surge, no family feuds. Yup, the dangerous possibilities all lie ahead.

Pre-summer is the golden window of good weather and unlimited expectations. That’s why people keep booking weekends in Maine, forgetting that last year they waited on line in the 95-degree heat for a $30 Kennebunkport lobster roller. These are the days of anticipatory dreaming.

On summer weekends, families head to our beaches, the Berkshires, the Jersey Shore or out East. Everyone is trying to recapture summer memories while forgetting the kids’ rainy-day tantrums or the traffic in the Hamptons or the prices at the farm stands that used to be a bargain. This is the time of dreaming and planning; there will be enough time in September to absorb the realities that subvert these fantasies.

In the big picture, we don’t know yet what kind of summer this will be historically, meteorologically or politically. Will it leave an indelible mark? Will our collective destinies stay the course or take a detour?

I remember the summer of 1967, when some 100,000 young people, widely known as hippies, descended on San Francisco, specifically the Haight, and protested the war in Vietnam, lived in casual encampments, did some drugs and wore flowers in their hair. It was a significant cultural shift, which led to the end of the war and the beginning of a real push for civil rights, women’s rights and racial equality.

My big regret is that I didn’t go; I wasn’t part of history. I was planning my wedding and looking for a job. I didn’t go to Woodstock, either, in the summer of 1969. My heart and mind were with the progressive causes, but the path I saw for myself was fixed and somewhat narrow.

So, young folks, this summer, get out there and live your days. Summer 2024 will not come around again. The calendar from mid-June to Sept. 21 is blank. The summer could sweep in dramatic change. Anything can happen. The days are hot already and very long; worry is in the air about drought and wildfire and political unrest.

On an individual level, this is the time to plan our downtime activities. Is this the summer you get out on the kayak? Learn to surf? Start hiking the Appalachian Trail? Rescue a puppy and use the summertime to train it? Maybe send the kids off to camp and get reacquainted with your partner?

For me, this is the summer to finally read “War and Peace,” all 1,200 pages. Truth? The last 50 summers have been my summer to read “War and Peace.” Never cracked the cover, but it doesn’t matter; I hold on dearly to the possibility.

The freedom of some unstructured time allows us to prepare for the upcoming election. A minefield covers the ground between June and November. It seems unlikely to me that any of the legal cases against Donald Trump will be resolved in time to make a difference. We have, as individuals who are citizens of a great democracy, the time to think about what kind of man we want to be president. I will be casting my vote for Joe Biden, the sitting president who has displayed decency and solid, pro-American, forward-thinking policies. I hope that others who have the time and inclination will seriously weigh the kind of America we want to live in.

We don’t want to get terribly serious because, after all, it’s about to be summer. Put your feet up. Grab a bowl of Washington State cherries, and if “War and Peace” seems daunting, pick up a National Geographic and learn the important stuff, like “Do Spiders Dream?”

Relax with one eye open. The summer of 2024 is about to unfold. 

Copyright 2024 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at