Years ago I attended a dinner party filled with guests who were clearly more well off than we. They were dressed better, the house was nicer, but they were friendly and the food was good. We clinked glasses with the best of them and laughed merrily at the fun and jokes. And then the conversation careened into a topic I was not familiar with. Summering.
My family traveled, sure. Dad drove us to Fairbanks, Alaska for a year to duke it out through the bitterly cold winter during which our pipes froze and the heat failed. The temperature plummeted to well below freezing inside and -60 degrees outside. So we fired up the tiny space heater and slathered on the blankets. My mom leaned in close to the heater trying to quell the shaking chills and burned the end of her nose in the process. Summering? I don’t think so.
After leaving Fairbanks, Dad hauled us to Easley, S.C. We lived on a lake in a house that was reputed to be haunted. My grandmother came to stay for a week or so and woke up with a nightgowned stranger standing over her. Summering? Nope.
When I was in third grade, my Dad decided to move the family lock, stock, and barrel to what was then British Honduras. But we didn’t just fly there and have our stuff shipped. No. Dad built a huge homemade moving truck and painted it baby blue. People, we DROVE from Melbourne, FL to Texas, all the way down through Mexico, and into what is now known as Belize. We lived in a stilt house two blocks from the beach. At dinner every evening a horrific stench overcame us while we ate dinner. We learned that our dinner time coincided with the locals taking their chamber pots down to the beach to dump them. At night our ceilings were coated in bugs we’d never seen before. In this third world village, window screens were not yet on the scene. Oh, we were summering, all right. But not in the way the guests at the fancy party meant.
That party I attended was the first time I’d ever been exposed to the term summering. My family farmed. We worked in the summer. We summered in the field and in the garden. I thought everyone “summered” at home.
One of the party guests in the small group I was chatting with told us, “We’ll be summering in Nantucket this year.” Exclamations of wonder and delight ensued. She turned to me and asked, “Julie, where are you summering this year?” Um, what?
I realized she was going somewhere on vacation but the term summering was a foreign word that I quickly tumbled around in my brain as I stared at her blankly. “Summering?” Walter quickly jumped in, “You know, going someplace to stay during the summer and have fun.” I looked at this man I had married as if he had two heads. I turned to the nice lady and replied, “We’ll be summering here in Miami as we usually do. We’ve no budget for an extended trip away.” She looked stunned. No budget to summer? Yep. No budget, cupcake.
I’ve looked into this “summering” phenomena. It seems beluga whales summer in Okhotsk. Fin whales and striped dolphin summer in the Corso-Liguarian basin. Birds summer, bats summer and, for crying out loud, even frogs summer!
Well this year, folks, the long drought is over. The sun is bright and the ground as hot as a griddle. We, most definitely, have joined the clamoring throngs of summerers summering through the summer. We (ahem) are summering in Crooked and Acklins Islands. We. Are. Summering.