In 1935 George Gershwin (with a little help from brother Ira) wrote the music to “Summertime.” The song is ageless. One source states that it is the greatest cover song ever. Artists from Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong to Janis Joplin and Sam Cooke have recorded the music. There are numerous instrumentals, a recent Broadway revival version and even karaoke cuts of a tune that is both soulful and uncomplicated with words simply written by the author of the novel “Porgy,” DuBose Heyward (also the subject of a contemporary novel by Dorothea Benton Frank, “Folly Beach”).
Sure, it’s possible you’ve never heard of this. However, it’s impossible for anyone to deny the evocative image of a lazy summer day. “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high ...”
Well, no cotton here, but isn’t it possible that we all shift into a lower gear as we tool through the long, uniquely beautiful summer days?
Does Vermont have a corner on the market of summer living? Of course not. There are seasonal marvels to be found in every state. But you must admit, there is something special, something crisp and clean, something lush and vibrantly green in the season we have just begun.
June 21 marked the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. In central Vermont the day was breezy and cool. The day before I had shared several hours on Lake Champlain with out-of-town relatives. Fortunately we were bundled up. But for many that is precisely the attraction: brilliant sunshine, blue sky, cool weather and low humidity.
For others, it is the inexhaustible offering of activities involving the outdoors that brings visitors to the area and prompts residents to take time from daily work to pause to enjoy what is local. A friend celebrates her birthday each year on the first day of summer. What does she do to party? She spends her time outdoors, often riding dirt roads and woods trails with her husband and friends.
A quick trip to your favorite search engine reveals things to do that are geographically local but universally appealing. Consider this sampling found at www.vtchamber.com: golf, hiking, swimming, boating, fishing, cycling, climbing, tennis, camping; weddings, tours, festivals, concerts, theater, gardens, vineyards, country stores, covered bridges; Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Vermont Summer Festival (equine); craft shows, farmers markets, historical exhibits; breweries, cheeses and, of course, creamees. And that’s just the short list.
Today in Active Vermont read more about the Cross Vermont Trail. In a future issue learn about Vermont’s state parks and how to use them. If all else fails, pack a picnic and a good book, load friends or family into your car, and drive. Drive anywhere. When you find a spot that calls to you — a swimming hole, picnic table, scenic overlook or one of the state’s many natural enticements available for public use — just pull over for a couple of hours. Read aloud with your kids, observe your surroundings through the lens of a camera (or cellphone), whip out a journal and record your thoughts, or simply kick back and watch the ever-changing cloud formations overhead. OK, it’s an hour you might have been doing something else. But it’s an hour I’ll just bet you will remember.
After all, it’s summertime.