You can practically cut the energy in the air with a knife. Or a chain saw, more like, it’s just that thick, and, well, energetic. The end of school, the beginning of summer. Every neighborhood is practically levitating as kids everywhere burst out of institutes of higher learning smack into the giddy promise of a golden summer.
I can still feel it myself, and it’s been a couple of years since I burst joyously out of South School, head first, tripping on the sidewalk, skinning my knee.
And this week, just to amp up the amperage, it’s a long weekend to boot — and the July 1st, Canada Day long weekend certainly has a vibrating energy of its own, depending on what stage you are in life’s rich pageant. In fact, there are Four Phases of the Long Weekend Phenomenon…
The Kid Phase: When you are a kid, the July long weekend makes you feel like a human firecracker. One of those big ones that shoots into the sky and explodes in a shower of sparkles. Back in my day, we used to run around like ecstatic banshees, setting off firecrackers (more or less legally) all weekend. The cacophonic combination of explosions and laughter was the perfect overture to the beginning of a new summer. And hardly any of us lost an eye.
The Adult Phase: And then, suddenly, you aren’t a punk kid anymore, you’re a punk adult. You’ll probably go to the lake with your buddies, or to the Canada Day thing at the park, or – more likely – you probably have to work at some dumb job all weekend and be depressed that everybody in Canada is having more fun than you. Most of my July Longs consisted of all three — the lake, the park, the job — truth be told it usually beat the heck out of a regular old weekend.
The Family Phase: By now you have a family of your own, and you are obligated by Canadian legal statutes to take your Better Half and the Rotten Kids camping. This is a traditional obligation subject to heft fines and lengthy jail terms if ignored or avoided. And unfortunately, waterslide hotels do not, under federal law, qualify as “camping”. Eager to avoid prison, I can remember dragging a dilapidated tent trailer behind our tired little Nissan station wagon out to Pine Lake, whereupon it would take all three days just to get the thing set up in time to drag everything back home again. But we would still manage to squeeze in a long weekend of mosquito bites, sun burns, algae rashes, burnt hot dogs and sleep deprivation. The Rotten Kids still say it was the best family time ever!
The Fossil Phase: The July long weekend as a person of a certain age (I’m told) often consists of avoiding crowds, weeding gardens, reading the newspaper (if you’re lucky enough to be able to find one that’s still being published), and repetitive napping. Unless of course you have grandkids and then everybody is allowed to revert back to Phase 1 — running around setting off fireworks — subject to specific Canadian legal statutes. (Just remember Grandma and Grandpa, those things can put your eye out.)
So thank goodness for the July long weekend and the beginning of summer. No matter what phase you are currently engulfed within, there are still good times to be had — lakes to visit, hot dogs to burn, gardens to be weeded and a time to be a kid again.
Oh, and also, flags to be flown. You know, the best one. The red and white one with the big leaf.
Harley Hay is a Red Deer writer and filmmaker.