What do you think of when you hear the term summer?
Many people think of cookouts, beaches, breaks from the stresses of life and school, and so forth. Every location celebrates summer differently, and every person, for that matter. When one is in a sunny environment, they tend to think of the beach and swimming to cool off. People in a colder environment might think of joining those in the warmer climate for a break from the chilly temperatures. I do not think of summer as a break, only because I still have responsibilities I have to take care of. Instead, I think of rollerblading, summer scents from the grill, sunrises on the ocean and sunsets on the bay, I think of ice cream at Woohoo (a local homemade ice cream spot).
Thinking about summer made me curious what others thought about it, so I decided to do my final interview on the subject of summer. I interviewed everyone that I had previously interviewed, but instead of asking a bunch of questions this time, however, I asked only one. The sole question I asked was ‘what summer meant to them’. It was fun to see what my family and friends thought of when asked about summer. The answers varied as much as the ones who gave them.
The first person I asked was Sam, my sister-in-law, who loved telling me all the different things summer meant to her.
“A summer day on the island usually consists of bare feet, bathing suits, and tan (or burnt) salty skin,” she laughed and added, “gathering with my cousins that I haven’t seen in months.”
Sam’s family has this tradition called the Pearce family beach day. All of her of her relatives come stay at the grandparent’s beach house and spend the day together at the beach. She talked about another aspect she loves about summer, being island camping with her family, where they cookout and have fire pits in the sand, to tell stories around and eat s’mores.
“Summer makes me think of rowing my old blue boat down the creek to the special hidden spot just under the bridge, and crabbing for hours. Saturdays are for Surf City Yacht Club Laser races with my dad. A summer day in Beach Haven makes me think of Fantasy Island, and the occasional Ferris Wheel ride, that I still take when I want to get in on the carnival action. I think of elephant ears, Country Kettle Fudge, Chowder, and ice cream.”
She said some of her favorite things were the wine tastings and pig roasts, but some other things she thought of, were romantic beach walks with her husband, morning jogs on the beach that leads to a dive in the ocean, fully clothed, a good book and a cup of tea out on the porch, and the unmatchable sunrises, when you are up that early, and sunsets that engulf the night sky with a ray of colors that cannot be replicated.
She ended by talking about what summer used to look like for her.
“Childhood summer memories that have stayed close to my heart are playing in the sand and catching fireflies. We would run through the dune grass, gently catching fireflies only to release them and watch as they fluttered away. Although I have grown up, it is amazing how the excitement and beauty of summers on Long Beach Island have never changed.”
It was fun seeing all my sister thought about when she thought of summer and how those memories of summers past, still stayed with her.
Next, I interviewed my friend Asia. Asia talked about how summer, for her, is usually a time of transitioning, whether it be in a relationship, a new location, a transition from work to school or whatever it is, her summer is when it happens.
“It seems logical that it would be a transition, but I always thought summer would be a time to just chill and relax. But I’m always reminded by summers, that rather than a long time of rest, I usually tend to experience God when a lot is going on.”
(Side-note, isn’t it so amazing that it does not matter which season of life we are in, God still reveals himself to us, both in the stillness as well as the busyness?).
“I always find that when I’m in summer I want to jump forward to the next task,” concluded Asia.
I love the friendship I share with this girl because she is so inspiring in everything she does and never takes any credit, but instead, gives glory and honor to God. Getting to interview both times was such a delight and encouragement to go further in my own walk with the Lord.
After finishing my interview with that friend, I decided to talk to another friend about his interpretation of what summer meant.
“Church on Sundays, going to the beach two to three times during the week, relaxing by the pool with some friends, going on a nice morning runs, reading my bible outside with iced tea, and being with the ones I love,” responded Andrew
What I loved about this answer was that he was able to sum up the important things in a single sentence. He is one of my spiritual brothers and our relationship has reflected that. He and I have a special friendship, where we know how to push each other’s buttons, and we always have the best time together. It has been cool to see him grow into a man of God, as well as witnessing our friendship blossom too.
Following smiles, as I have nicknamed my friend Andrew, I asked another friend who has helped me to grow in God continually. Sean is one of those people who naturally have a servant’s heart and I am honored to have a role model in my life like him. In everything he does, he does it in humility and exalts God in every aspect of his life.
“This summer was probably one of my craziest summers.” He said with a smile in his voice, “most of the time summer means vacation – doing something fun – traveling and being outdoors. This summer, [however], I was working at 2infinity (a trampoline park in Lakeland).”
As he paused, I could hear his wheels turning, “Summer means a time of working. Pushing myself to perform at my best. Summer still means a lot to me with opportunities to travel, but as I’ve grown up, it’s how I can prove myself – the testing period of my life, to see how far I can go, [and] because of my hard work, there is a reward in the fall time.”
The rest he got in the fall, was a gift he was thankful for, from God, because of the summer work and his obedience. It is a gift that God gives his children, after they follow him obediently, through a season of perseverance and labor, but it is never given to us, our way – it always will be in God’s way – in His timing.
Before ending he stated, “It is a time of stretching and growth from the Lord. It’s really interesting – I don’t know why God chooses to do things in me in summer – that’s my tax season.”
He was then, by my pressing, encouraged to add a little snippet about good leadership and what that entails.
“Even if I’m at work, church, or just at home, I serve. I serve by taking initiative. I serve so people don’t have to worry about [the responsibility and stress of] being in leadership. I take initiative be willing to serve. If you allow yourself to give away your time to another human being, that is a good use of your time. We’re never perfect, we make mistakes, but it is just being obedient to the voice of the Lord is key”
Sean has been appointed to many positions of leadership, especially in the summer time, because of his natural nature to put others above himself and as he continues to serve, God gives him more opportunities to lead.
After hearing Sean’s take on summer and the busyness it brings, I asked Marissa what summer meant to her.
“I think a lot about resting, going to the beach a little bit, and doing nothing.” She continued, “I just went through my first summer where I was still doing things and nothing really changed.”
Her point was valid though when one is in school or a job that takes off in the summer, summer has a completely different meaning than if a job or education is year-round. I love Marissa and how she always brings an optimistic perspective. She is another role-model I look up to, and spending time with her, is always something I enjoy. Even though her summer is packed with work and plans, she still is on the worship team at church and makes time to spend in the word and with fellow disciples. I love her playing – it always allows me to come into a place of pure worship where it is just the Lord and me. I thank God for her heart, and for using her to bring others to sit at his feet as well.
Next, I thought I would reach out to a person that does have a seasonal job and has off only for summer and for school breaks.
My aunt who works at the school said that summer is a time to relax and “a time to recharge my batteries”. She talked about how in the summer, she has more time to spend outdoors and with friends that she has not seen during the school year, as well family she has not seen in the “off” months either. It gives more time just to stop and dwell on what the Lord is putting on your heart. The urgency to get things done is not as strong in the summer so it is easier to stop and rest.
She said, “my fall, winter, and spring is so focused on work, that when summer comes it’s a breath of fresh air.”
In the summer she likes to take on smaller projects, like a taking a teaching or a painting class. This allows her to stay sharp and to keep learning, even as she is not in the actual classroom.
Later on, I interviewed my mom on what summer meant to her. Being a real estate agent, she is always much busier in the summer month since this is a seasonal island. Ask anyone and they will tell you that June to the beginning of September is the most hectic months for a real estate agent. This, however, was not mentioned too much when asked what summer meant to her.
“The fun of having a filled house, with the family, the dog, and the activity” was the first thing she mentioned. “The light reflecting off the bay, putting on our sneakers, and riding our bikes to the end of the island, enjoying the beautiful breeze as we listen to worship music,” were other things she wanted to make note of.
She went further to discuss the beauty of the sunset on the bay and the sunrise over the ocean. Grilling and sitting on the deck with a nice refreshing drink and friends that stopped by, was discussed as well. We have not grilled too much this summer, however, but when we did, we loved basking in the sweet fragrances that filled the air, and the conversation taking place, while we waited.
“This moment is what summer means to me,” referring to the orange glow of the sunrise falling on the houses as the sun rose over the roofs as we sat on the porch, one morning, before our bike ride.
I love that my mom finds beauty in everything and everyone. She sees God moving in everything and is constantly reminding me of God’s presence surrounding us. Watching the sunrise on the ocean and worshipping with her, as we wait for the full picture of the risen sun, is one of both of our favorite summer activities. When I leave in the fall, this will be a sight that I will miss every morning, and look forward to when I come home on school breaks.
Afterwards, I got to discuss with my sister, the significance of summer to her. Like Sean and Marissa, my sister has a job that does not stop in the summer so summers do not mean the same thing they did when she was growing up.
“Summer to me used to mean spending the entire time at the beach, but now it means trying to get done as much work as possible, before September hits. I say my vacation times have changed to be more April, October, and December.” When she was younger, she said that she would go sailing, surfing, working and “do everything that required me to go off grid”. Summer was an escape for us growing up. None of us wanted it to end and would try to take advantage of the precious time we did get away from the hustle and bustle of schoolwork, homework, planning and structured schedules with no extra room for anything else.
Although my sister’s schedule is a bit more structured now, like it was growing up, it is still nice to be able to see her when she flies up for a week to visit in the middle of the summer. The time we spend together now, even via FaceTime, has brought us much closer in our relationship. The age difference also grows to be less, as we both are getting older.
My nana answered then. “[When her children were young,] Summer became a free time because the kids didn’t have school.
She talked about how once my aunts and uncles were older, they would all go down to the shore house and take sailing lessons. And added how, now, the weather is perfect for gardening.
“When I was a kid growing up in Lyndhurst we would put a screen out on the porch and we would get to eat eat out there,” She reminisced. “It went by too fast!! We would think ‘I got two months – wonderful. Then the next thing we knew, the cady ditz (August bugs) were making noise, telling us that summer was coming to an end.”
“I like summer clothes better than winter clothes – you don’t have to wear as many,” she as she laughed. “I like the summer food too,” she continued, “right now, we have the New Jersey corn and tomatoes, and we have a farm near us where I get them.”
I loved hearing how summers were for my nana as a child, and as to how they are for her and my papa now. Her birthday is also during the summer so that was always another thing to celebrate beside having off from school. It was fun hearing as she went down memory lane during her summers and it made me feel like I was traveling those old familiar paths with her, in the way she recounted the events and memories that occurred.
Following nana’s trip to the past, I interviewed my pop pop on what his thought of summer was.
He had this to say, “I am so blessed that I have all these blessings, and thank God for blessing us, with so much abundance. [Summer is] To be able to go to the shore, go to the ocean, and the bay and think how fortunate I am.”
Pop pop loves getting to see his family come together and spend time together at the beach house. We all go with him to church on Sunday mornings and since we live together, we are able to go upstairs or downstairs to see each other. Sitting out on the deck, enjoying company and the sunset is another thing that my pop pop enjoys doing. He loves just spending time with us all together – That always makes him the happiest.
I later asked my friend mike what summer meant to him.
“What summer means to me is relaxing time spent with family and friends, as much as possible. Most of my life, summer has meant time off from my busy schedule during the year.” Then paused to think for a moment, “However, in the past few years, it has meant just the opposite. Summer time is now filled with constant home renovations on two Victorian homes that require constant attention. Combining that with a busy real estate schedule, results in much less time off than I have been accustomed to. This is not a problem for me, as I love to spend time doing both. I just have to plan relaxing time now and that’s ok, compared to before when I just relaxed without planning.”
It was great talking to Mike and seeing how summer does not look the same now, as it has in previous years. I definitely relate to summers changing over there years and what they represent for me in that specific season. It is nice getting to have a relaxing summer but some people, like Mike, thrive in the busyness of summer but welcome the opportunity to relax when all is said and done.
In concluding my interviews, I asked my uncle his thoughts on the matter.
“Summer is a time that centers around friends and family because you’re with your them more now than you are the rest of the year. It’s about being around the water and being around friends you’ve known for a long time – its like a home away from home.”
He then talked about the appreciation everything we have here. We have so much at our fingertips that we are given.
“We live in a beautiful area and we are very blessed with this life and blessing we receive from the Lord.”
Summers are ‘people focused’ more than ‘event focused’ – in the winter it tends to seem like many things are focused on the event more, but summer at the beach is more about family and friends – the time shared.
My uncle finished by saying, “It means doing fun things, doing more outdoor activities like tennis and sailing, it means just being at the beach – I have spent all my summers down at the shore, and that’s what it means to me.”
I enjoyed listening to my uncle tell of his summer. He was able to summarize many things about summer that makes it such a delightful season. It allowed me to see what he believed to be important and what summer is supposed to entail. I could not agree more with his take on what summer means. And what a perfect way to outline what summer means.
Life at the beach, in the summer, offers such a fantastic place of fun, laughter, friends, and life! There is always so much activity everywhere and always fun places to visit. Families come together and friends are reunited after a long time away from each other. Summer is a time for physical, emotional and spiritual growth as we persevere through our jobs and responsibilities. It is a time of transition in our lives and our circumstances. It is a time to celebrate life by cooking outside and delighting in the warm weather that meets you as you head to the beach. Summer is hot dogs and hamburgers. It’s warm weather and swimsuits. It’s time that is not rushed and hugs that have been contained for the long months apart. Summer is sunrises, sunsets and unmatchable beauty by the Creator as he displays his artwork for all to partake in. Summer is the memories made that linger long after the sand has left our feet.