Saying something nice about July


John Adams: patriot & July inspiration

A few of my favorite things about my least favorite month.

Not that I’m one to play favorites, but summer just isn’t my ideal time of year. So in the spirit of Maria singing during the thunderstorm in The Sound of Music, I’m thinking up a few things to like about July. (Because I already love thunderstorms.)

1. Somewhere, history is happening.
As far as the history that’s already happened, July is the perfect time to revel in it. One of the fascinating aspects of our country’s lore is the friendship-turned-bitter-rivalry-turned-friendship of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. And how amazing is it that they both died on July 4, 1826? I sometimes get on a kick and read a couple of biographies in a row about a person, whether it’s John Adams or Marie Antoinette (also appropriate for July, given Bastille Day on the 14th). July is the perfect time for obsessive reading. A reading-watching combo would work too: The recent HBO special was based on David McCullough’s biography of Adams.* McCullough’s book 1776 is fascinating too, but you have to be ready to embrace a level of detail that includes the significance of the color of uniforms worn by the Prussian mercenaries who fought for the British.

To do: Read about the good ol’ US of A.

2. Somewhere, people are playing baseball.
When I was a kid, we dutifully endured “typing class” one school year, using old-fashioned, clickety-clack typewriters.  Whenever I had extra time at the end of class, I would type out the Chicago Cubs roster, including the height and weight of the players. I was completely enamored of the Cubs and have been ever since. I spent my summers going to hundreds of my brother’s baseball games, eating candy necklaces, learning to keep the official score and dreaming of the next time I could go see the pros in Chicago (yes, I think of the Cubs as professionals). I no longer watch many games, and I’ve given up my goal of marrying one of the players; but I’m still happy to know in July that somewhere, people are playing and watching baseball.

To do: Find a nearby major or minor league team and take in a game. If possible, also eat a hot dog and some nostalgic candy. In lieu of baseball, simply eat candy.

3. Somewhere, polar bears are diving off blocks of ice.
True, fewer polar bears are lounging around and diving off of sadly disappearing blocks of ice these days. But still: Imagine the frosty goodness. Just as the sun is still shining when it’s dark and the stars are still doing their thing up there when it’s cloudy … somewhere, even though it may feel hot and humid, polar bears are diving off thick, ancient ice into an impossibly blue ocean.

To do: Open your freezer and put your head inside for a few seconds. Withdraw head. Close door. Send a happy thought to your favorite polar bear.

Honestly, I was going to do five things to enjoy during July, but I think three is enough. It’s time to put my head back in the freezer anyway.

*For that matter, you could also extend the reading-watching concept to Marie Antoinette. Sofia Coppola’s movie about the much maligned queen was loosely based on Antonia Fraser’s excellent and somewhat revisionist biography. Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution is also fascinating and full of unexpected political details.

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