By Josh Kesa
I played Bocce Ball on the beach last week with a great friend, and I'll tell you, I can't remember a recent more enjoyable time. For those of you unfamiliar, this ancient game dates back to the Roman Empire and the object is to roll ("bowl") your four balls closer to the smaller object ball, known as the "jack", than your opponent. It is scored much like curling, as you recall watching during the recent winter Olympics. The official court dimensions are about twice that of a regulation bowling alley, but, playing informally on the hard beach sand with relaxed boundaries and an adult beverage in hand the only way to go, trust me.
Imagine a late Friday afternoon with the week's work laid to rest, drifting along the Atlantic shore with that friend you so adore, talking about everything and laughing out loud while half-ass keeping score. As much as we both love to compete, winning has never been so unimportant, and we know the game merely serves as a secondary forum for our own quality time together. As we settle in, the sun is approaching that perfect setting point, far from overbearing but still warm and cozy like a living room fireplace. The building shadows stretch beyond the shoreline as the pinkish-red beach goers shake their towels and fold down their umbrellas, packing up for the trip back home. However, our time has just begun. There are still two good hours of sunlight left and we plan to soak up every last ray, enjoying conversation as much as our potent liquid refreshments.
Why this offhand approach, you ask? The answer...summertime. You can feel it in your bones and smell it in the air, but better yet, it most glaringly surfaces in our attitudes. I often say there is no better feeling than that of anticipation, and as the calendar springs its way through May, you just know summer will come calling. Not just Bocce Ball and volleyball, or flip flops and tank tops, or even the surfboards and bikinis, summer is unequivocally the best season of the year for a number of other reasons as well. There is just no comparison...so don't tell me its too damn hot!
In the summer:
People are friendlier and happier. Work hours are relaxed and we dress casual. We run our dogs and color our hair. It's easier to merge onto the highway. The tourist are tolerable. We care less about a clean house and more about a clean car. Our kids grocery shop with us. We talk to our neighbors and sign for their packages. The yard is kept and the pool sparkles clean. We pump up our bike tires and dust off our fishing hats. Our old jeans become cutoffs. We watch classic movies and Seinfeld reruns. We mix vodka with watermelon, and a steak on the grill has never smelled so darn good.
And speaking of food, in the summer we desire simpler eating with more quality family time. Roasted marshmallows, chili dogs, and double cheeseburgers. We want less stuffy restaurant stress and more often opt for dining with the locals - like "a slice" from Vito's Pizzeria or a "whiz and with" cheesesteak at Philly's Finest; maybe those warm jumbo-sized chocolate chip cookies from SnacShack Bakery or a blue raspberry Italian ice at Rita's on third street.
Whatever your situation, know that summer is on the way and prepare your attitude to be adjusted accordingly. If the feeling doesn't overcome you soon, do what I did...grab your best friend and find your way to the closest beach. Bring a Frisbee, a kite, or a football, it just doesn't matter. You'll see, it works wonders,