The holiday weekend was dismal and rainy but I’m still pretty sure it’s summer. Which means: Making sure the window fans are blowing out during the day and pulling in a cool breeze at night; hitting a bucket of balls just over the border at Bushwood; adding a touch of maple syrup to the barbecue sauce; wearing shorts whenever possible; Groovin’ in the Grove; working a backbreaking job with the comfortable knowledge it will end in September; finding, or rekindling, romance at the lakefront; watching less TV because there’s even less than usual worth watching; starting up the grill early on Saturday morning; block parties at last coming to the residents of Circle Avenue; college kids coming home at strange hours; water, drinking plenty of water; strolling through our nature preserves, careful not to walk on the graves; no school schedule and, more importantly, no homework to help with; sipping morning coffee on the front porch; getting away from Forest Park for at least a week; combining lunch with catching some rays; snoozing in front of a baseball telecast, knowing the announcer will wake you up if anything happens; imposing a moratorium on pot roast and other heavy dishes; not missing the No Gloves tournament; catching and releasing lightening bugs; taking long walks with a rewarding destination, be it beer, ice cream, or designer coffee; not having to hear from congressmen and senators, because they take longer vacations than anybody; stirring up a can of exterior paint; not overloading the yard waste containers; wishing there were more stars and fewer mosquitoes; showing off a really mean sunburn; getting the bean bags to flop through the holes; slip’n slide anyone?; finally learning how to serve a tennis ball; performing injury-defying stunts at the skate park; watching a family of raccoons cross the yard; taking advantage of Buckingham Fountain, boat rides and Navy Pier fireworks; starting a book you have trouble lifting; leaving the cell phone attached to the charger; going to the movies just to cool off; joining the rest of the human race by wearing sandals; adding hot water when filling the backyard pool; trying to save the grass, flowers and trees from dehydration; listening for the ice cream truck; wondering how the ice cream driver can listen to “Yankee Doodle Dandy” all day long; playing baseball with your kids until a neighborhood pick-up game breaks out; building sand castles at the pool, because it’s an excuse to stay under the umbrella; reading the paper on a park bench; rediscovering how refreshing a Popsicle can be; wishing it was cooler outside, while conveniently forgetting last November; learning how to roller blade because they make you look taller; scheduling your day around a nap; not straining your brain any further, because it’s summer.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.