Commentary – Purple tongues and wet shorts

Chris Clegg

“It isn’t summer if your tongue isn’t purple!” – Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is what summer is all about, especially for a six-year-old! A time of play, eating ice cream and popsicles, and getting soaked under the sprinkler.

Meanwhile, an adult will fish or play sports, eat steaks and hamburgers, drink beer [perhaps!], and relax under an umbrella.

Come to think of it, there really isn’t much difference!

Summer! The time of year most of us look forward to. Our two or three weeks of holidays, when putting our brain in neutral and our worries aside takes precedence. It’s a time we take a needed break from the rat race to prepare for 49-50 more weeks for slavery. Just kidding, boss!

I remember summers when I was a child. Sure, there were chores to do. There were dusty square bales to pick up and stack, roots to pick, a little gardening and grass cutting. Still, a lot of time was devoted to play. Baseball and soccer, or riding your bike to the neighbours took at lot of time. Mom was always ready to let us go visit, probably because she needed a break from her six loving but very noisy brats.

And, man, did we drink a lot of grape and cherry Kool-Aid. Sometimes we froze them into popsicles. It was a quick inexpensive treat although mom probably despised the sugar intake which kept our motors running full speed all day!

It’s odd how perspective changes. I love late July and early August when the saskatoons and raspberries are ripe and ready for picking. Delicious! Never thought of it when I was a kid.

I enjoy sitting around the fire at night, soaking in the warmth and snacking on hotdogs and smokies. Usually a baseball game is on the radio. I prefer baseball on the radio than watching on TV, actually!

The biggest difference between my memories of summer as a child and today are not sights and sounds of the land, nor the delicious tastes of summer barbecues.

Rather, it’s the howling of coyotes or geese honking in July and August in the still air. As a child, I was a bit afraid of coyotes howling but I hear it today in a different form. Coyotes aren’t howling to prepare for the attack, but likely howling because they are happy and content, probably just pups playing around the den.

There is still nothing like the sound of Canada geese during a cool fall evening, if you can forget the fact they’re snacking on the barley and pea crops. Poor farmers!

How Canadian is that?

I love looking at the vastness of space and trying to see satellites. Sometimes, I even see a falling star. What it is to dream and wonder! The light I am seeing today left that star or galaxy hundreds of years ago, or in some cases, thousands of years.

Look at all those stars! Many of those billions of stars have several planets. There just has to be life on other planets.

A recent show on TV says our sun has a few billion years left. By the time it burns out – if humans are still lucky enough to be around – it is likely we will be evolved as much as the first bacteria on earth evolved in to humans today. How cool is that?

Of course, we will never see it. Who cares? It’s summer, and time to relax, turn your tongue purple and get your shorts wet.

Life doesn’t get any better than that, regardless of whether you’re six or 60.


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