John Norberg, humor columnist s

My grandmother always said after the Fourth of July the summer is half over. And if grandma said it, it must be true. I always agree with grandmas. They control the cookies.

Grandma wasn't a pessimist. It was just her observation that summer passes very quickly and after the Fourth of July it rushes toward autumn like a roller coaster speeding down the last big dip before the end of the ride.

The truth is our season of summer just started about two weeks ago and it doesn't end until September 22 – 77 days away. Since the official summer season is 93 days long we've got a lot of summer left to live.

But sometimes the facts take a backseat to how we feel. And it does seem like summer is half over after the Fourth of July.The problem is, somebody stole most of August from summer and added it onto fall. Stealing time from summer is a dastardly deep.

A month from now the high school kids will be playing fall sports. In five weeks public schools start again. And it's hard to convince a kid there's any summer left when school is back in session.

It's hard to convince a granddad, too.

Wife: "Where are you going?"

Me: "I'm going to get an ice cream cone."

Wife: "It's 10 o'clock at night. Don't you think it's a little late to run out for ice cream?"

Me: "The Fourth of July is over. Summer is half finished. I'm running out of time. I have to eat as much ice cream in the next few weeks as I can."

Wife: "You're not thinking logically. But wait for me. I'm not thinking logically tonight either."

Summer can do that to a person. So can ice cream.

We're not as close to summer as we used to be. Sixty years ago we used to experience it more. I know a lot of hard working men and women spend the day outdoors. But today most of spend our summer indoors with the air conditioning blasting. Our experience with the heat is walking from our air conditioned homes to air conditioned cars to air conditioned offices.

Kids stay in the house and play computer games all summer because it's too hot outside. I remember years ago when we didn't have air conditioning our houses were stifling in the summer and no matter how hot it was outside, it was always better than inside. We went outside on the hot summer days back then and slept on porches at night in hopes of catching a cool evening breeze.

Today with our windows shut tight and our air conditioners blasting we miss some of the great sounds of summer. One of my favorite summer sounds was bells.

When we heard the tinkling bells of summer all the kids in the neighborhood rushed home to our mothers with an urgent message: "The Good Humor Man is coming." Ice cream cones. Ice cream bars. Popsickles. We needed money, fast.

Fortunately, my mother loved ice cream as much as I did, so we gathered with our neighbors at the back of the white Good Humor truck and then cooled off on the hot, humid day with a nut and chocolate-topped King Cone eaten slowly beneath a tall, shady tree.

On summer days outside we built tree forts and took them down when the owner of the property found out. We had picnics because it was too hot to eat inside. We played red rover in the biggest yard in the neighborhood and stayed out after dark to catch fireflies in jars before letting them go when we went inside to bed.

It was too expensive to go to the public pool all the time, but if the summer day was really hot our mothers set the sprinkler in the middle of the yard and turned it on. We got in our bathing suits, ran back and forth through the sprinkler and the summer heat melted away in our giggles.

Maybe summer is now half over. But we still have a few good days left. There's still plenty of time to go outside and run through the sprinkler. There's still plenty of time for picnics, tree forts, red rover, fireflies and King Cones.

Don't let this summer get away until you've squeezed all the ice cream out of it.

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