Summering in hibernation

These days, when I’m not working, I’ve taken to hiding in my house. It’s not people that I’m trying to avoid, but the weather. And the smoke.

I think of it as summer hibernation. I’m not a fan of the heat. I mean, I still go out to buy food and other needs. Otherwise, I’m housebound.

Nowadays, the heat of summer feels different from when I was a kid, as though the sun’s rays have somehow become more intense, more penetrating.

I recall certain things about the summers of my childhood in Vancouver. The days began with my waking up to the “fee-bee” call of chickadees in the trees along our neighbourhood’s boulevards. With breakfast out of the way, morning cartoons also, I’d eventually head out to play with friends who lived across the street or on nearby blocks. Play involved everything from hide-and-go-seek to climbing trees, riding bikes and playing ball hockey. Lots of ball hockey, sometimes right up to bedtime.

We had an above-ground pool in our backyard and the neighbourhood kids would often come over for a swim. Dad was also good at organizing games, including mini badminton tournaments in our and our neighbour’s front yard, or softball games at the nearby ball diamond.

Summer vacations saw the Labere family head off to hot locations like Yakima, Wash. to visit family. I recall temperatures there being around 100 F, or 37 C. Some summers we drove to California to visit one of my grandmas. Other years, we’d drive to Lethbridge, Alta., to visit family there. At each of these locales we’d spend a fair bit of our time outdoors.

My point here is I spent a lot of my childhood summers outside – even after an Atari 2600 system found its way into our home.

With my own family now, summers are typically a busy mix of work and childcare programs, with our own vacations occurring during the shoulder seasons. By and large, we leave Shuswap summers to the tourists.

Going by the traffic on the highways, one might assume the Shuswap is currently hopping with tourists. But talking to local business owners paints a different picture. Perhaps some are doing well, but others aren’t seeing the traffic they normally do. This would have to do with the wildfires and smoke in B.C.

Our local MLA wants to turn things around – get the message out that the Shuswap is not experiencing wildfires and remains open for business. I hope he’s successful.

This summer, my wife is working for a provincial park near the Yukon border. My son is with her, enjoying three months in the great outdoors, swimming, hiking, riding ATVs, picking wild berries, etc. The weather there is cooler and the air is clean and smoke free.

I look forward to the end of August, when my family returns, the temperature starts to cool down and I’m once again ready to leave hibernation.