Las Vegas’ McCarran Airport was crowded with people determined to get an early start on the long weekend rush.

Las Vegas is already hot — it is 103 degrees in the shade, a desert steamy heat that promised long sultry days. Bikinied bodies, oiled and gleaming, laid in various stages of undress, abound in hotel swimming pools. The heat, the speed, smell, the hustle brings out the dancers, singers, casino, people, general show business visiting merry gamblers, melee of noisy tourists and middle America out on the four-mile  stretch of the boulevard — all looking to be entertained.  At $11 million an acre, the Strip is probably the most prime real estate in the world.

“Summer time and the living is easy,” says Gershwin. Elsewhere and everywhere, summer has already arrived.

Summer has officially arrived — that season when time stands still, when nothing bad can happen, when the mornings with the sun buttering the tree tops represents a chance to start  over, to begin again and everything seems possible.

Summer is like a metaphor after another.  A profusion of blooms, a fiery weather of dreams, a fever of the mind, a blossom of conscience, a sweating of regret and a premonition of desire. It is a garden of the spirit that bestows an imagination’s respite in the knowledge that there was more in the world that one could understand.  Name me one masterpiece whose euphoria for July or August is equal to Wordsworth from his “Daffodils.”

It is a time more mellow than autumn, more tender than spring and away from the inhospitable glare of winter.  Summer is a high, candid definite time.

Summer is a voyeur’s paradise, as the whole city is taking off its clothes just to torment the men, (who just stare a lot, moronic with easy pleasure) at this all hang-out. Being just their true selves in sweet freedom, they are unburdened by cares and innocent responsibility.

It is the great trek, the movement of life from indoor to outdoor.  The whole street is turned inside out, as if at every window people were shaking out the contents of shoe boxes, suit cases and closets.

I’m also hearing summer sounds again — neighbors talking in their garden, the sound of the winds through the magnolia, maple and elm trees as their leaves whispered and the birds too.  When it rains, the thunder seems to enter the rooms, voices in the street day and nights admitting you to intimacies through windows and thin walls.  That sound of a car honking on Rexford Drive is inferior to that of a honking bird, is after all, an arbitrary decision.

But the saddest sounds of summer are those two hearts breaking.  Summer romance, as a phrase, (when the two words are brought together) is something akin to “Summer Soldier.” The romance carries away and the summer soldiers run away from duty or from the reality of things.

Sun-filled romance in summer is the dramatic background of much fiction.  There’s the accident of meeting and the unreasonable heightening of the season.  Classically, there is also the imbalance of clan or situation on hand, chilly truths swept away by the soft clouds, the fields, petals  in the breeze and the urgency of the burst open water lilies called lotus.

Edith Wharton wrote a short novel called “Summer.”  It is a bout a poor girl and a clever young man.  As always, the man is alone.  Idling about in the sunshine, and she is there as she has always been in the way of these romances. Of course, it is not to last.  The young man as it turns out, is engaged to someone.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles

This is the summer landscape that engulfs Tess and Angel Clare and finally leads to a despair of such magnitude that only the genius of Thomas Hardy could imagine it in the changing seasons.

My favorite, Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Dog,” is the story of a lady and a man are both married. They meet one summer and the romance flows along on a pitiless tide.  Without any possible ending except misery, when they believe the love will at last end, or the devastation will have a solution — the final line says “no, it was only the beginning”

So in spite of the meadows and the picnics under the shade of copper beech trees, the days will be staged again next summer with other lovers in other places. The freedom of the endless summers remain in memory like the summers of childhood that one remembers as having lasted forever.

Summer is a high, candid, definite time —  but always beware of summer romance.


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