In math we often talk about “bounded sets.” A bounded set in two dimensions is one that we can draw a circle around, while one in three dimensions is one that can be placed in a sphere. I thought of this recently as I reflected back on the summer that is almost over. Bounded by the end of school on one side and the beginning of a new school year on the other, the set “the days of summer vacation” is certainly a bounded set, one what is quickly approaching the end of the list of such values.
This has been a particularly hot summer, with few rainy days to disrupt the pattern of camp field trips and afternoons at the public pool. As the newspapers begin to run adds for “back to school sales,” I find myself looking back on these last weeks with gratitude.
As I look reflect on these days, I am thankful for many things. I am thankful for the chance to recharge and prepare for a new school year, and the chance I had to read and write and research. I am thankful for the time I spent with my daughter and her friends, most often at the pool. I am thankful for the beautiful weather and the sparkling water both at home and at the ocean we visited. I am thankful to the people who caught the seafood we feasted on while on vacation, and I am thankful for the chance we had to once again go on vacation with my family, including my little niece (and her soon-to-be-born brother), although we all mourned the fact that, for the first time, my grandmother was not with us this year. She would always stand on the porch when we arrived and proclaim “well, we made it another year.” This year, we did not hear such a proclamation, although we thought of her often that week.
I am thankful for the fact that I live in a city that decided having good public pools was something it wanted to invest in, and for the people who make sure they run smoothly and for the life guards who make sure that we are all safe. I am thankful to the life guard who, upon request, likes to spray my daughter and her friends with even more water as they slide down the water slide. And I am thankful to a man named Dave, about my father’s age, who was very patient with me when I invaded his space in the lap line of a pool we were obviously unfamiliar with. Don’t worry, I don’t go to that pool often- you can count on having that space to yourself most of the time!
I am very grateful to the people who ran my daughter’s summer camp, for the work they put into finding the almost daily trips they took. I am grateful to the many people who entertained her this summer, from the ones who helped her make pizza to the ones who taught her how to ice skate on one of the hottest days of the year, to the ones who helped her “mine” for jewels. I am thankful for the people I will never meet who made the multiple bathing suits I bought her as she grew like a weed in these weeks, and for the lady in one store who helped me piece together yet another bathing suit (on clearance) by calling a neighboring store to find a matching bottom to a “tankini.”
I am thankful for the people who made the many pizzas that we brought with us many evenings as we swam away the end of the day. I am thankful to the people who kept the pools clean and safe (see Dean Dad’s column  from a few weeks ago) we had a similar incident in the baby pool at our own pool, right around the same time of the summer.) And I am thankful for the moms I met up with at the pool as we compared notes on parenting a child my daughter’s age. As the end of the summer approaches, we share frustration that none of our children have done as much of the assigned summer homework as they should have. But, somehow, that is not the most important thing. She learned how to fish and to skate and has improved her swimming and diving skills. And she had a truly wonderful time.
As this summer winds down in its last precious weeks, I hope and suspect that this summer will be one that will be forever the measure she will used as a standard for “how a summer should be.”