Summer has begun in the United States. It may not be the official beginning of summer, but take my word, this is it. Or don’t take my word. Ask any kid; they’ll tell you. Sure, school is still in session, but summer is here. (I would ask my beautiful daughter Laura, but she is asleep. Last night she went to the prom. Laura is sixteen, but her boyfriend Fred is an eleventh grader and thus eligible for prom attendance.) Some people will begin this day with a visit to a graveyard to remember their veteran family members or friends. Across the country people will eat hot dogs, tofu dogs, burgers, barbecue chicken, sweet corn on the cob, and watermelon. We will play baseball, basketball, badminton, bowling, handball, ping pong, tennis, soccer, scrabble, cards, and Wii, all with a local, low-key version of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
In Armonk, New York (motto—really: “Come for a day, stay for a week”), where I grew up, we rode our bicycles everywhere. We would ride downtown to buy candy at Artie’s stationery store, which was open just about every day of the year. Artie didn’t have much stationery. His old, funky store sold newspapers, tobacco, and more importantly, candy, soda, and comic books. We would ride to Byram Lake to have a swim. Back in my neighborhood we would dismount and walk in Hadley’s Woods. There is no website for Artie’s store or Hadley’s Woods, which are gone now. They live in my memory, and the memories of my sister Katy, brothers Dave and Phil, neighbors and friends Peter “Preston” Reed, Amy and Chris Freed, my buddy Regis Goodwin, and all the others adults and children who remember Artie and once claimed those woods as their private, miniature wilderness. This is why we set aside this day—to remember, and to begin our summer.