The first thing to mention, I guess, is the smell of wet grass, and how it smelled of freedom and luxurious boredom. Bahia Vista was the neighbourhood where I grew up which was made up of semi-detached town houses in which lived most of the minority population of Marin County. We were black and Vietnamese and Laotian and Iranian and Latino. Looking back I guess you would classify us as lower middle class, perhaps poor, but when I was eight, I didn’t know what other neighbourhoods looked like, and since the Bahia Vista housing complex each had a tiny bean shaped pool, and in the center of the house was a large grass field, dotted with a few climbable trees and small hills perfect for rolling contests and Star Wars Action figure worlds, I felt I was in heaven.
I am sure they watered this grass field throughout the year, but it wasn’t until the summer holiday when I noticed the sweet smell of the grass and the tiny droplets hanging on each blade from the massive sprinklers. The same sprinklers we ran through, in our swim trunks, on the way to the pool.
Sometimes we would take a day-camp trip to McNear’s Beach. This public pool was bigger and deeper than our neighbourhood pools. It was chalk fool of sun-burned bodies, all clamouring for swimming lanes and giant marco-polo games. It was overly chlorinated and I guess we didn’t know about goggles in the eighties, so our eyes burned raw as we ingested push-up pops and waited to pass the swim test to be able to play in the deep end. It was eight feet deep, which was an ocean of difference compared to the mere four-and-half foot depth of the neighbourhood pool.
June has always meant freedom to me. The beginning of summer, coconut smelling sun tan lotion, the ice cream truck, staying out passed dark, summer camps to Santa Cruz, horseback riding, time spent on rivers, the beach, sometimes lakes. Overtaking the neighbourhood. Staying up late. Watching too much TV, eating too much junk food. Everything about June is too much. It’s also the end of school, homework, rules, structure.
June is the childhood portion of the year.
It is clear that June is the best month of year. Did I mentioned that it is my birthday month? Not only that but I was born on June 21st- the summer solstice. The longest day of the year. The epitome of the previously mentioned freedom. 21 has always been my favorite number. I like seeing it on jerseys, on roulette boards and as a jack and an ace.
June is the end of school and responsibility and the start of summer. It is anticipation and countdowns followed by sweet release. These days June is also Father’s Day and our anniversary. It is the time of year we board airplanes and head home to the US to eat burritos and watch summer concerts. We take road trips and drink too much beer and eat too much corn. Peaches and cherries. We barbecue and see old friends. We rarely wear shirts and build that base tan, ready to get really dark. We stay up late and wake up late and reconnect with family and nature and books and ourselves.
Although much of what I have described is still a few weeks away, tomorrow is June 1st, and I can already feel the magic in the air. Everything feels different in June.
What are some of your favorite June rituals? What is your favourite month?Why? I am curious what my southern hemisphere friends think of June.