Weekend edition: Summer on speed dial

James Bornemeier
James Bornemeier

Maybe it was an Island thing, but it happened in the city, too.

Although we registered the requisite number of days from Memorial Day to Labor Day there’s no doubt that in an apparent passage of time, this was the quickest summer season ever.

Ask around and you’ll get the same opinion. As a die hard autumn guy, I’m not complaining. But the season seemed to go by in weeks, not months. It wasn’t always this way.

When we bought our house in 2002, summers seemed long and languid. This was due to our fastidious Island exploring and settling in to Island routines. As the years marched on, the season kept shrinking.

Once upon a time, July 4 seemed a distant milestone. Nowadays, if you don’t keep your attention tightly focused on that date, it will blow by you and the season is a done deal.

Another factor in the velocity of summer was another superlative: It was by common consent one of the nicest batches of weather in memory. August, dreaded August, was mostly perfect. Some days felt almost downright September-ish.

The malarial humidity was mostly absent and on a couple of days, on my way to get the paper, I found myself grabbing my ancient gray hoodie. My theory is that with weather like this, the days fly by because subconsciously we know that meteorological sublimity is a wonderful aberration for which we are not worthy.

The garden certainly enjoyed the summer. Although we are blatant laggards at tending it, we had the best tomato crop in years — fat, red, yellow and delicious. As usual, the cucumbers were left to grow into objects resembling small airships and tossed into the composter. Other crops rose up and were not eaten because we rarely eat these veggies. I never understand why we do this.

All three-day holiday weekends attract “The Crew,” my wife’s son and daughter, their spouses, their kids (three) and their dogs (two). These gatherings are almost entirely benign, with one exception. Over the years I have come to terms (somewhat) with sharing a bathroom with the family of five; I have accepted general kid-generated mess/chaos; and I no longer obsess over the exotically slow tempo they impose on meal times and preparing for any activity, of any kind. I remain, however, deeply pained at what happens in my kitchen.

I am a proud neatnik when it comes to that room. I am a clean-as-you-cook practitioner and have orderly rules for every kitchen process. Dishwasher loading? Don’t get me started. In the early years, I struggled mightily to enforce my kitchen regime, which meant spending most of the day “fixing” things that were “wrong.”

No one seemed to notice I was doing this. In the last few years, I surrendered to the superior forces encircling me (including my wife) and let them have their way. I have learned to avert my gaze. But it’s disturbing nonetheless.

Perhaps the greatest upside of these visits is the growing mass of charming grandkid moments. I never had a single thought about grandkids until we had them in our midst. For reasons unknown, the 2 1/2 year old granddaughter took slightly more interest in me than usual last weekend. I can safely state that there is no greater joy than making that girl giggle. Of course to be successful you have to descend to the lowest depths of clownishness, usually accompanied by nonsense sounds you didn’t know you could produce.

The 7-year-old boy hit two milestones last weekend. We got him into a Snapper Derby episode (not his natural comfort zone), but that paled next to his other success. He lives in a Queens neighborhood that is imperfect for bicycling, and his failure to master this obligatory bit of boyhood was, frankly, becoming an issue, though never expressed. After I left for the city on Sunday, the welcoming serenity of our cul-de-sac did the trick. And I have the video to prove it.

In the world’s fastest summer, he nailed it at the eleventh hour.