Calendar-wise, it’s not yet summer but might as well be. Everything’s in bloom, sun block advisories are the norm, and the pleasant aroma of grilled food is in the air. Also, grass growing at an alarming rate, yard work you didn’t get to in the spring staring you in the face, bugs everywhere. With all of the good warmer weather offers, it has its share of disadvantages that keep me, at least, indoors a lot of the time. But then, much like my wife, I’ve always been more of an indoor-sy type.
Not that I have anything against being outside or people who really enjoy hiking, boating or even mowing their own lawns. A very good friend is the self-proclaimed “Professor of Mowology” and more power to him. I think the folks I see fishing along the banks of Raccoon Creek here in Vinton have the right idea, sitting quietly and preferably in a shade, or by the spillway of the dam, staying cool in their own way while waiting for a bite on the line. Doesn’t cost anything either, just shelling out for bait if you have to and provided you’ve got your own stuff.
But I’m not into fishing or a lot of outdoor activities, although I did think about joining a softball team once some years ago (okay, a lot of years ago). Best that I didn’t, though, given my rather uncoordinated physical nature and understanding (or lack thereof) of the game. Skills I’d have had, some will argue, if I spent more time competing in the sun and heat. While debating this particular Catch-22 in my life, I concluded I just wasn’t as suited for the Great Outdoors as others. The final nail in the coffin for me was the end result of the straight-line storm that swept through the area at the end of June 2012, leaving us without electrical service for several days in the midst of a stultifying heat wave. You were forced outside because you could slow bake more easily there than on the inside.
There are people with more intense outside labors to perform in the summer, but for my wife and I, it’s cutting the grass and weed-eating. It is true there are individuals who take pride in mowing their lawns and their hard work is pleasing to the eye as they endeavor to maintain that impression. I think of it more as a primal response within all of us to keep the jungle from encroaching on our space. Besides, if your neighbors go to all that trouble to keep their grass cut, you should do the same. A good thought when writing in an air-conditioned room about lawn care, but about the only comfort there is in 90-plus degree heat when you’re pushing a mower or slicing down growth you know doggone well you’ll have to attack again next week. Not to mention vines and trees in their early stages, although I’ve found that if you’re careful, the weed-eater has another use when it comes to overgrown fences.
By about August, I hear more than a few people wish aloud that the green stuff would simply die and to heck with the environment. And considering you have to continue with it until at least the end of October, small wonder. The excitement of who will use the mower for the first time this season has long since dissipated, and I offer a Bronx cheer to Pinterest for suggesting all of these lawn and garden ideas that just don’t work out the way they’re expected. I say this only after the missus and I did our weekly routine with the grass, one made a little more difficult because one of the mower’s rear wheels wouldn’t go until after a generous application of WD-40. Holy cow, do I sound like Red Green or what? And where is that duct tape?
But the one thing that does make me appreciate the outdoors are the walks I take to sweep the cobwebs from my mind, get a little contact with nature and take in some exercise that will hopefully reduce the size of my waist — not much luck there so far. Autumn is my favorite season and I get more enjoyment out of the walks due to the added features of crisp air and fallen leaves crunching beneath my feet. But I have to admit summer is an ideal period to walk because the conditions are just right — warmth, dryness and the fact daylight is that much longer. My fall ramblings are about the same period, mid-to-late afternoons, but with twilight creeping ever closer as the days grow shorter and we march toward the time change in November.
Much of what I do — reading, writing, withering my mind with TV, performing chores, guzzling coffee, etc. — is done within the confines of the house. And that’s okay with me. But for all of you who do enjoy the outdoors, I’m fine with that as well. I’ll cheer you on at anything you do out there, even if it is when I stop to look through my window on Main Street as I put the finishing touches on this column.
Kevin Kelly, who was affiliated with Ohio Valley Publishing for 21 years, resides in Vinton, Ohio.