Monday, July 13, 2020 -
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The beginning of summer

The essence of this past Memorial Day weekend was to remember and honor our brave military, without whom we Americans wouldn’t have the beautiful free and protected America that we are blessed to call home.

My grandfather, my zadie, after immigrating from Hungary to America in the 1930s, served in the US Army. His service has always been a source of pride in our family.  Memorial Day has also always been a reminder that summer is around the corner and, perhaps unofficially, has become the kickoff to the summer season.

Perhaps, too, a sense of freedom of summer is ingrained in us because of childhood when summer meant the freedom from school and more time for fun. Or perhaps it’s the literal feeling of more light, longer days that seem to melt into late nights, that has given the season of summer the aura of endless time.

Perhaps it’s the warm sunshine and extended outdoor time, the mountain air, the infinite sea and sand.

Whatever it is, come summer and the list of projects or goals for this special season commences.

I don’t just mean the goal of enjoying chilled chardonnay or rosé, clocking in as much time as possible of beach time, walking barefoot in the grass, eating ice cream, sporting a tan, having picnics in the park, eating an abundance of corn and tomatoes and peaches, asparagus and English peas, inhaling fragrant flowers, or encouraging children with their lemonade stands. Certainly, those are seasonal goals, indeed.

What they all have in common that summer’s arrival seems to invite is simply: spend as much time outdoors as possible!

In New York City, I love roaming just a few blocks from my apartment to Central Park’s conservatory gardens.

Standing at the top of the staircase on Fifth Avenue at the entrance to the secluded gardens, the grand wrought- iron vanderbilt gate in black and gold, transports me to an elegant floral oasis.

The perfectly pruned and manicured concentric circles of gardens, the fountain jet whose spray brings a sense of life to it all, the graceful rose arbor gates, and the little literary flourish of dedicating a Secret Garden water lily pool to author Frances Hodgson Burnett, are simply charming.

On more casual outings, crossing the street to Central Park’s duck pond is perfect. This summer I plan to get a portable hammock and find a perfect shady spot between two trees to tie it to and, if possible, hopefully loll away a Sunday afternoon reading a good book.

Another New York City summer tradition I have developed over the years is a nighttime movie under the stars at Bryant Park.

It started before I moved to Israel, and even while I lived in Israel, if I was visiting in New York I tried to squeeze in one of the classic movies. It is through this summer movie festival, which glows on the big screen after nightfall on the lawn of this park, so evocative of Parisian charm, vintage carousel and all, that I have developed an affection for some of those old Hollywood classics from my mother’s and even my grandmother’s generation.

I usually try and go with a friend once every season. Sitting there on a blanket in the grass in steamy New York heat, the big screen showing old vintage black and white cinematography, framed by Midtown’s skyscrapers, and knowing that footsteps away is the New York Public Library, is a perfect New York summer night.

This year, when it comes to actual sporty or nature-oriented outdoor summer goals, nothing can quite compare to last summer’s quietly dramatic experience of being in the path of totality and witnessing the sun’s total eclipse.

Compared to that, this summer’s goals seem quite modest, if not outright dull.

That said, I will be back in Colorado and do hope I can hike during July’s colorful mountain flower season from Aspen to Crested Butte, a trail I have wanted to climb for years. Eclipse or no eclipse, it’s beautiful! I haven’t been on Lake Dillon for about five years, a standard summer pasttime ingrained in me since family trips in formative years, so I hope to get back on track with that, too.

Regardless of big plans or the luxury of doing some summer travel, because let’s face it, each season usually grants only a fraction of our goals set forth at the outset, the best part of the season is making wonderful memories with loved ones in the backdrop of this beautiful sunshine filled and colorful world. Summer feels like a season of life and living. The world is in bloom. The fresh air is life affirming. Life is hopefully growing all around, symbolized by even something as simple as geraniums blooming in a terra cotta flower pot. These summer gifts, even a snow addict like me cherishes.

Memorial Day Weekend couldn’t have come fast enough!

Copyright © 2018 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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