Monday, May 26, 2008
Your Sinister Summer
It's Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer. (The REAL start is the summer solstice, coming in a few weeks.) And it's our job to make summer as sinister as possible.
What is a sinister summer?
A sinister summer is where the shadows are still found in the corners, where you're sure that eerie adventures are lurking around the next corner as you explore and sniff out something new. It's taking time out on a hot afternoon to read a shuddersome novel, or retreat back into the air conditioning to watch a favorite horror film. Or taking a less stifling afternoon to do a little touring and exploring.
A while back, I made up a list of experiences and sensations I associated with my newly-minted concept of a Sinister Summer, and here it is.
Book sales at the library
A milkshake in an old diner
A sundae in an old drugstore
Watching horror films in the A/C
A ferry ride over a choppy river
Dry marsh grass swaying in the breeze as a red-winged blackbird flies overhead
Crashing waves on the beach as the sand blasts your legs
Being inside a dark bookstore in a small town on a blindingly bright summer day
Reading a gothic novel on the patio as storm clouds roll in from the west
Long drives to places you’ve never been, through small towns with crumbling gas stations
Melons and veggies and fruit from roadside stands
Exploring an old or historic home
An estate auction
Impulsive purchases at a flea market
Driving by wide, flat farm fields with big equipment operating
An unexpected road in the woods
A trip to the mountains
BBQ from a roadside restaurant
A cone from a windswept, lonely pine
A shell from the beach
Dry grass scrunching underfoot in a cemetery
A wild, late-night drive
A midnight meal in a diner
A prowl through a dusty antique store
A picnic in a shady spot
Toes in the sand
Telephone poles by a country road
Windows open during a gentle rain
Hot french fries in a paper cup
The wind in the pine trees around an old church
Lemonade in a styrofoam cup
Country/folk music on the car stereo, driving as the sun sets
The sounds and lights of carnival rides
Stopping by a yard sale
Exploring a park
Sitting under a shady tree by the waterside
A crumbling tourist trap
A walk through a strange town
A moonlight stroll
Fossils and feathers and other oddments
Turning down a side street to explore
Resting on a grassy hillside, looking at the clouds overhead
Green trees swaying in a strong wind
Under a picnic shelter during a thunderstorm
Storm clouds rolling in with green trees in the foreground
Of course, this is specific to my own experiences, and my own locale (Washington DC, with forays up to my parents' place in western MD and much-desired-for trips to Chesapeake country and Maryland's eastern shore). I'm sure folks may have a different set of ideas and expectations, which is all well and good, and I'd love to see and hear them.
Gas prices are insane this year, alas, and I hear that more and more people are doing "staycations" or limiting their travel in some way or another, which is understandable. I'm expecting a trip to the Monster Bash convention in Pittsburgh in a few weeks, but other than that, I have almost no plans for vacations, mainly because of the expense. But...let's be honest here...it's freakin' SUMMER. Get out! Do something!
Of course, there's always the idea of going out for a walk, which I've explored already on this blog. If you can manage it, get out to another town and walk around. Poke around in all the interesting-looking shops, explore the graveyards, visit museums and historic homes. Save up your gas money and take a drive through the country, keeping your eyes open for any adventure that may come along. Take a picnic lunch and bring a notebook for writing down any ideas you have. Go to a local carnival. Hit a local festival. At least go down a street you haven't been down before, or go to some local tourist attraction you've never visited before. Break out of your routine, and go to an open-air concert or play. Plan a picnic with some friends, or your special someone if you're lucky enough, or both.
And, naturally, don't neglect the beauty that summer can bring. Pick flowers. Stargaze. Watch the fireflies. Take a class and learn to draw or paint. Take lots of photographs. Visit those outdoor art shows that spring up here and there. At least try something you've never tried before, even if it's trying some new recipe, or starting (and completing!) a craft project you've never done before. The hallmark of a Sinister Summer is not just the potential for eerie adventure, but also for just sheer plain fun. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your friends. Gather the ones you love for a picnic or dinner, at least once, and raise a toast to a Sinister Summer.
(And for a domestic tip, a food writer once said that the correct type of wineglass is a minor thing. The glass is less important than the wine, and the wine is less important than the person drinking it. Keep that in mind!)
The photo above is a path through a park near my home. Don't let the quiet green pastoral scene fool you. I was standing on the sidewalk of a busy street when I snapped that.