I know that summer officially doesn’t begin until later this month, but those of us who are ruled by the school year rather than the calendar year know better. Summer begins as soon as school is out. Around here, school has been out for a week (public schools) or more (universities).
But last night was the beginning of an annual tradition that spells summer for our family: Music in the park.
Just a block down the street from our beloved farmer’s market is a lovely park with an old-fashioned bandstand. On Sunday evenings June-August this is the site for free community concerts that draw young and old, including the quite old from the retirement center that stands at the edge of the park.
Music in the park has been a constant for our family since our youngest was just a baby. We’d drag our enormous and hideously ugly picnic quilt along, a few chairs, sometimes a cooler with a picnic supper, games, books, and cards. As toddlers they marched, danced, and pretended to conduct. As they got older they ran about the park and climbed trees. But always they came back to the home base of the ugly blanket, settled in, and listened to our city’s civic band playing old favorites, or local groups doing bluegrass, jazz, and barbershop.
Last night it was just Middle Sister and me at our Sunday evening ritual. We couldn’t talk her brother into joining us, and The Husband had to be in bed long before the concert started. Different, but still delightful. Long shadows, a cooling breeze, green grass and trees, and excellent people watching:
•A two-year old dancing with wild abandon with every song, conducting and playing the drums with two sticks he picked up, and waving proudly at his parents when he bravely danced away from them to join in a large group of older kids, who welcomed him into their dancing circle
•A grandmother near us applying copious quantities of face powder and lipstick throughout the concert, using her small compact mirror
•Two families with several children between them, craning their necks anxiously throughout the concert to check that their children, playing in the large area behind the listeners, weren’t disturbing anyone
•A quite old gay couple sharing a blanket on the ground, and welcoming a young couple with a baby, who joined them halfway through the concert
•A brother and sister throwing a large flying disk in the park in the distance, getting it stuck in a tree, and immediately throwing a shoe at it to dislodge it. The shoe got stuck in the tree on the first attempt, and their mom – a very good sport – ran to take a picture and join in the attempts to throw the other shoe repeatedly to get both items down.
It was a beautiful beginning to a summer that will be punctuated with similar events – more music in the park, the outdoor Shakespeare festival, Theater in the Park musicals, fireworks.
Let the fun begin!