Summer is as much a state of mind, as it is a season. Things you can't do without? Iced tea, new mown grass, kids playing in the sprinklers, corn on the cob, maybe some ice cream. I'm also thinking you might need concerts under the stars, 'smores, and any one of hundreds of sporting events. We have cycling races and their attendant crashes, rodeos, and the most devastating, straight up and then straight back down, half marathon on the planet. You've earned your ice cream if you can do that.
Two of my favorite summer memories comes from Sun Valley. If you live outside of the West and are not prone to skiing, you might not know what it is. It's an older resort community in the central mountains of Idaho. A little river runs through it, mountains surround it, and you are better off with a little bit of money when you go there.
The grand Sun Valley Inn has a rich history of movie stars and athletes, wide expanses of lawn, ponds with swans in them, an ice rink with a grand old show and dinner outside. Not exactly a picnic, but the food is great.
Last summer, I drove over to attend their famous writer's conference, which is not a writer's conference so much as it is a stage for showcasing well known writers, reading their work. My star-struck heart was on full display in the outdoor pavilion, listening to one of my heroes, Pico Iyler. Sometimes you are confronted with a mind so dextrous and so profound, you realize just exactly how unsophisticated you actually are. That happened.
But an image that stays with me was lunch. Hamburgers, I think. It was on the back lawn of the resort. Hundreds of white picnic tables were stark against the grass, shaded by open umbrellas in pastel yellow, greens, pinks, and blues, vividly framed by snow-capped mountains. It was all a girl could want.
Later I met friends for dinner at a famous restaurant at the Inn, The Ram, where we ate outside, along a meandering sidewalk, a swath of grass, the pond with black swans. We didn't have any kids with us, all of us being well past the kidhood stages. Either one of them. But the table next to ours did. Their little girls were dressed in frocks, and the little boys had on madras plaid shorts and sandals. And they had taken over the grass, running in and out of sprinkler range, their giggles echoing off the regal old walls of the Sun Valley Inn.
Now, that's summer.