A few weeks back I was sifting through perennials at Southern States and one of two women evaluating tomato varieties within earshot of me said, “I love this time of year. Everything seems possible before the heat, the bugs, and the weeds.” The gardener’s spring hopes and fears in a nutshell. As a brand new homeowner and an expectant father, the words implanted in my brain and swelled with metaphor.
There’s something delicious and inspiring about the preparation phase, the moment of maximum potential. I lie awake at night meticulously plotting DIY projects I will never execute, whose edges will likely never be quite as clean as I conceive. It keeps me from thinking about the child, who should be able to rest in my wife’s belly without the burden of my expectations for a few months longer, dreaming in placental intoxication about his or her own possibilities.
UVA has cleared out and the subletters are arriving on the Corner, barbecuing on porches and laughing late into the night. Our high school seniors have graduated, and every classroom around town is itching to close up shop, exhausted by testing, over and done with field trips. You can drive down Barracks Road any time of day (except right before a baseball game) without a hint of traffic. Summer is here—heat, bugs, weeds, and all. This week’s feature is a treasure hunt of ideas to help ensure that at least some of your summer dreams lose the cleanliness of concepts.
My best summer moments have usually involved something going wrong followed by a swim in cold water: a motorcycle with a burnt up battery on the shoulder of I-90 and a hotel pool; a mosquito infested camping trip in the Boundary Waters and a pothole lake; a terrifying hike on a Swiss mountain path in slippery tennis shoes and an alpine mere. I think there’s a message about summertime and parenthood in there. Growth through failure and revelation in relaxation. May your memories be sunburnt and bugbit.