The Man Who Loves Vacations can never decide between June and July. Then there's always August, barely a sweet summer's afterthought behind. And, of course, September - that loveliest of long shots.
The Man Who Loves Vacations begins his delicious indecision in January, when it is an act of faith to believe in summer at all. By February he has convinced himself that he cannot wait a day longer than the first week of June.
June, in February, is such a charmer of a month. In June, at the beach, the Man Who Loves Vacations wakes up to a coolness he can almost taste, salty at the edges. The morning fogs of June give just the right sense of privacy, mystery, and enchantment. It becomes a vacationer's spectator sport to watch the mists pussyfoot away around 10 o'clock. Little by little the sun pierces through until - let the drum roll, let the cymbals clash - there it shines, full-orbed, dazzling the eye and warming the nose, making the whole world sparkle like a jewel, from a grain of sand to a cresting wave.
What can compare with June's long, mellow evenings, stretching out light, golden as honey, until 9 o'clock?
July - that's what can compare, the Man Who Loves Vacations decides sometime each year between March and April.
July is the heart of summer, blooming with the confidence of a season securely positioned in its center. You will get no May or September in July. At no time will you experience the ghastly shock of wearing a bathing suit and seeing your breath in front of you - a freak accident that can befall the early riser in the first weeks of June or the last weeks of August.
July is summer: the mean average, the statistic you can rely on. Ask your nearest panting dog.
At high noon July can be depended upon to be summer, even in the mountains.
In July the heat waves will shimmer every afternoon, and the crickets will chirp every night. Well, practically every night.
July is the month when you pull out your camera and certify summer - incontrovertible evidence for the rest of the year to refer to. In mid-July, to believe in winter becomes the act of faith. Is this assured, this seemingly permanent sense of summer the very thing that makes July too obvious a choice?
At any rate, nearly every spring as he extends the suspense of his choice to the last moment, the Man Who Loves Vacations feels a romantic pull toward August.
August is summer, but with its back getting closer and closer to the wall. August carries the seed of autumn in it. As the month progresses, you can feel a tiny nip just before dawn and just after sunset. Nothing you would call frost, but nothing you would call summer, either.
Late August has to fight for its summer identity as the weeks roll by.
The Man Who Loves Vacations attributes a kind of gallantry to August and wishes to reward it, personally. Why not stake one's balmy hopes on the capacity of this last summer month to resist the end?
Or for that matter, why not really go all out and take a chance on September, when the rents go down with the temperatures? What a sense of power to land in a Labor Day week that feels like the Fourth of July! The Man Who Loves Vacations still remembers a Columbus Day that reached 90 degrees.
As the summers pass, the decision gets no easier. The fact is, the Man Who Loves Vacations wants it all - from the first of June to the last amber day of September. And then maybe it's time for Hawaii. What a pleasure, what a responsibility - this endless ambition for sunlit leisure!