by sandy feet (www.sandyfeet.com)
Summer afternoon-summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.
- Henry James
It has been 17 years since my last summer vacation began.... nearly two decades since the final school bell rang signalling that important ending of one thing and the beginning of something completely different. After 22 years in the classroom (first as a student, then as a teacher), I left it all behind for a life of endless summer, building sand castles on SPI.
That was a lot of years ago, but I don't think that anyone ever forgets what it feels like to have the whole season stretching ahead of you - lakes to swim, bikes to ride, books to lose oneself in... So many possibilities, and a seemingly endless string of days for pursuing them.
Temperature-wise, summer arrived here on South Padre Island sometime in early April, which is when we started hitting the 90 degree mark on a pretty much daily basis. But real summer can't really start until that final bell rings, followed closely by the first round of Friday night fireworks on the Bay. When the Summer People show up Memorial Day weekend with kids in tow, shiny new rust-free umbrellas, Star Wars beach towels, foam noodles and a big stack of summer reading materials -- then and only then can summer be said to have truly arrived.
Summer People come in all flavors: College kids trying to recapture the (of course irretrievable) magic of spring break; condo-owners from Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, settling in their families and mentally preparing themselves for the summer commute back to the city and to work; honeymooners and fishing widows and beach joggers and kids! So many kids screaming for the pure joy of it as they hotfoot it down to the beach for the first time of the season...
Summer People know how to have fun. The smarter among them look for a copy of this fine publication as soon as they cross the Causeway for the latest info on more ways to get the most out of their time on SPI. They trust the locals to steer them in the right direction, and every one of us has our own opinion on which essential elements a perfect summer vacation on Padre should encompass. Here is mine (the abbreviated version - go to www.SPIonline.com for the rest of it):
1. Spend at least one day floating around at Schlitterbahn
2. Catch at least one set of "Beyond Violet" (go to www.beyondviolet.com for an updated schedule of SPI performances)
3. Build at least one sand castle - with or without your kids
Of course, for those of us who live here, everything seems backwards. For the past couple of months, we have been kicking back during the week , enjoying the empty beaches and bestirring ourselves only for the sporadic arrivals - followed by the Sunday afternoon departures - of the Weekend People. Now here it is time for us to go to work; to rent those jet skis, take those orders, bus those tables and sing "Margaritaville" for the zillioneth time -- when we would much prefer to be partying with the Summer People.
It takes tremendous self-discipline to keep working when everyone around you is playing, but it makes the between-shift hours all the sweeter... and there are so many wonderful ways to spend down time when the Summer People are here.
I for one intend to grab the season by the horns because, in the words of the Bard himself:
Summer's lease hath all too short a date.
- William Shakespeare (Sonnet 18)