What Gives with June?

She Lacks Appreciation

By Steve Carr

If you were to consider the year in terms of distinct parts, like twelve unique co-workers, how would you feel about June?

July, for example, is often the center of attention, the de facto summer month celebrity, the proud host of Independence Day. The water cooler chatter is often abuzz with August—her hammock, the lemonade, summer vacations. The two months stick together and lay claim to the dog days of summer. Then there’s December. She gets a lot of attention: parties, holidays, first snows. And the spring months, full of themselves, get all the credit for new growth, new beginnings, despite their weather being more promise than fulfillment.

Think of the music on our old cassette players. The Beach Boys croon, “spring vacation, good vibration.”  Chicago dreamily remembers, “Saturday in the Park, it must have been the Fourth of July.” But June’s music claim to fame has Bing Crosby telling us that, oh by the way, “June Comes Around Every Year”—Mr. Dependable, if not memorable.

June just may be the most underappreciated month—the buttoned-up nerd who’s never asked to join the office football pool despite being the first to volunteer to go on the office coffee run. So, what gives? June’s weather, at least here in Idaho, is pretty much perfect. The mornings start out cool. The days are hot and clear before changing into something deliciously comfortable each evening. School is out. When is that not a good thing? The smell of fresh mown grass is in the air, everywhere, and our bicycles have air in their tires once again. We don’t have to take the kids to a parade and, perhaps best of all, family reunions are two months away.

Come to think of it, it seems fitting then that our lone June holiday (sorry, you don’t get to count Flag Day) is Father’s Day—the least needy, most unpretentious holiday of the year. No flowers to buy (and plant.) No cards with cheesy aphorisms to purchase. No carols to sing, just a barbeque on the patio overlooking the lawn and the hayfield beyond. (And, by the way, if you are supplementing the burgers and potato salad with wrapped presents around the picnic table, stop it. He doesn’t need that. He wants you and the barbeque and the freshly mown grass.)

My dad did shish kebab. Steak, potatoes, onions, peppers and mushrooms were cut, marinated, skewered, and turned over charcoal briquettes. Dad loved his electric powered “kebaber.” The skewers stood vertical, in a circle—a sort of mini-Stonehenge. They rotated slowly around coals held in a screened cylinder. It was a long process, getting the coals just right, so we relaxed on the patio as June put on her evening show. The rotisserie motor performed its steady drone in the corner. The sprinkler tick, tick, ticked nearby. The hayfield, across the barbed wire fence, was cut, damp and ripe, waiting for the sun before being baled. The juices dripped and spat and sizzled on white coals.

My memories of Father’s Day and June evenings on the patio are overlain by the patina of time, coalescing into complex emotions. The shish kebaber (and the mess it made) is gone. The hayfield is gone. Dad is gone. Yet variations of June’s sights and sounds and smells repeat, bittersweet.

* * * *

As I looked over this column’s draft, an earworm, from nowhere I can explain, played in my brain. I gave it a voice and realized I was wrong about the dearth of happy June music. The often understated and, for me, sublime June has arrived and is indeed, “Bustin’ Out All Over.”

Find Steve at scarr@prodigy.net or better, grab your sweater and join him for a sensory-filled evening on the patio this month.

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