Singing summer’s praises was once a given. Who didn’t love the year’s peak season? But these days, I hear more complaints – too hot, too humid, too much construction, too many storms. The cicadas are too loud, the movie blockbusters too few and far between, the Cubs too disappointing for words. And it all goes by way too fast.

Is this is the summer of our discontent?

How many 100-year storms can you have in a century? By my count, we’ve suffered three already in the first decade alone.

The weather does seem to be getting more extreme. It’s probably due to climate change (but don’t tell the deniers – it upsets them). Our winters and summers are likely to become even wilder, but the end of the world is likely still a few decades off, so we’d best appreciate what we have.

And we’ve had some wonderful weather this summer – along with the hot, muggy, stormy stuff. The week leading up to July 4 was one of the loveliest sustained stretches in memory. It followed a trio of strong June storms, so maybe things even out. A few Sundays back, we enjoyed a gorgeous one-day reprise. I took a walk in the early evening and the streets looked as if they were paved in gold. Actually, they were bathed in gold, lit by the setting sun, a welcome reminder of just how beautiful our world can be.

Weather remains the great reality check, putting us in our place. Driving home from Willowbrook during the Great Deluge at 1 a.m. on July 24, I found myself cut off by submerged pavement at every turn and had to try other routes. Traveling alone after midnight through a 10-inch rainfall and being unable to find your way home, to say the least, takes you out of your comfort zone. I found sanctuary at a friend’s house in Westchester, of all places, the epicenter of the flood. His basement had three feet of water, but he let me crash on his couch.

Otherwise, it’s been a pretty quiet summer, which is how I wanted it. Highlights include an occasional bike ride (low gear, nice and easy) on the Salt Creek Trail, walks around town, sitting on the porch with friends or standing on the roof of my mother’s seven-story condo building in Forest Park watching the sunset’s afterglow linger a long while on the western horizon.

I took this summer off – no vacation, avoiding crowds – and found that, without the pressure to plan and do things, time slowed down. The main “events” were the bumper crop of Queen Anne’s lace nodding along the highways, going several months straight without donning a jacket, appreciating tree shade and moderating breezes, watching evening darken into night in Austin Gardens while watching Shakespeare and Steinbeck, monitoring the progress of sky-scraping prairie gardens in people’s front yards.

The other parts of my life are busier and more stressful, so maybe I’m compensating.

One of my cherished fantasies is taking an entire summer off. No work, nothing planned. Just see what develops. A lazy man’s summer, watching the season unfold as it pleases – in its own sweet time. Reducing life to its basics: eating, sleeping, walking, thinking, having a glass of wine with friends, taking drives in the country, contemplating clouds as they sponge sunlight and reveal the blue yonder’s depth.

And never, ever being in a hurry. Just witnessing the changes in the day as it progresses with its long train of modest moments. Being wealthy in time, poor in everything else, except companionship. And the senses, all five, getting a workout because when it comes to sight, sound, smell, touch and taste, summer plays no favorites.

Shouldn’t we all have one of those summers before we die? A child’s summer, to which we bring adult sensibilities.

If only.

If summer has become an underappreciated season, August is its least appreciated month – summer’s Sunday night. By August, we are veterans. Skin glows with the sun’s conditioning. Muscles are toned by increased use.

In The Adventures of Augie March, Saul Bellow writes of a family excursion in which the adults bring along fruit so ripe, it’s “nearly ready for the wasps.” In August, summer is that ripe. Weeds push up through the pavement cracks. Life insists. By August, we’re ready to stop micromanaging the garden, which has taken on a life of its own. Tending gives way to letting go.

Late summer adds an extra dimension of poignancy. Time is running out. Whenever I’m tempted to complain about the heat or humidity, I think about August’s calendar opposite.

In February, late summer is where I want to be.

Join the discussion on social media!