Sept 6th. Day after Labor Day. The end of summer—or so we think of it. There was a time when I was under the impression that the end of summer came much earlier in the year. My mother, I recall from days when I was young, maintained that the sound of locusts was the signal for the end of summer. That distinctive whirring, pulsating sound, if I recollect correctly, came in early august. My mother’s pronouncements bothered me back then. As a boy I didn’t want summer to end. That brought the start of school—the end of freedom. More than that, close on the heels of summer’s decline came bad weather and snowy walks to the school bus stop on frosty mornings. The end of sunny days and balmy nights did not appeal to me.
These first emotional reactions to my mother’s bleak pronouncements gave way, as I grew older, to others based on a superior foundation—that of logic. Summer, I reasoned, officially ended on September 20th and not the middle of August. Moreover, warm weather, for that was what I associated with the summer season, could continue on well into October. Summer did not depend on the presence or absence of locusts.
Much later in my life, I came to be of the opinion that summer is more than a season. Summer is a state of mind. Weather is only one factor in the scheme of life. I found that it is possible to have the same positive enthusiasm I associated with the bright sun of summer at any time of the year. This became especially evident on a trip I took to the city of Johnstown, PA one weekend. This trip occurred before the establishment of the Penguins in Pittsburgh and, for my wife, Mariellen, and I, Johnstown of the 1960’s was notable for one reason: it was the nearest city with a professional hockey team. One weekend in January, the Johnstown Jets were to play home games on Friday and Saturday nights. I took a day’s vacation from my job and we left early Friday afternoon to spend a hockey weekend in Johnstown. We hadn’t bothered to read the weather reports and what we didn’t know was that Johnstown was expecting a major snowstorm.
We arrived in Johnstown just slightly before of the storm, unknowingly having driven just ahead of it all the way from our home just ewast of Pittsburgh. Our first clue that something unusual was occurring was the heavy traffic that greeted us, all headed in the opposite direction—out of town. The great amount of the working population of the city had been given the afternoon off in deference to the storm. It had begun snowing heavily by that time. We made it to the parking lot of our motel, which was, fortunately, in downtown Johnstown. It was the last we used the car until late Sunday. It was the last of our driving in the streets of Johnstown. Nobody was driving in the streets of Johnstown that weekend. The weather forecasters had been right. The worst snowstorm of some years had descended.
It was one of the best weekends I ever had. Mariellen and I were forced to walk everywhere. We were forced to take it easy, to slow down and not hurry. We were forced to be aware of and appreciate where we were, where we were going and how we were getting there. We spent little time running around and more time relaxing. We saw a hockey game on Friday night but the game for Saturday night was cancelled, the visiting team having been snowbound somewhere east of Bedford. We spent our time at leisurely meals, in meeting and getting to know other people in long conversations in the motel tap room and in being with each other.
That weekend was the start of my attitude of not much caring what the weather is going to be. I’ve developed the attitude that weather is only a minor part of life and that with a proper attitude I can enjoy myself anytime, anywhere. That has been, over the years, extended to a philosophy of believing that the true purpose of life is enjoying oneself. But that statement requires a bit of elaboration and explaining. Maybe I’ll do that next time.