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The Finer Things/Stacey Kukkonen

Realization: Summer is what you make of it

August 20, 2011
The Daily Mining Gazette

All I am consumed with now are my "nevers."

I never planted my flowers. I never went to the beach. I never took my dog to our favorite walking trail. I never dipped my toes in the water. I never had an adventure.

My summer went by so fast, I never took the time to enjoy it. As I sit here writing this, I am watching the sun beat down on College Avenue as passersby carry shopping bags and socialize with each other. Am I jealous? You bet I am.

There was so much I wanted to do this summer. I wanted to take advantage of the great weather. I wanted to stuff myself into a bathing suit at least once and I intended to walk the trails and see something I may never have seen before.

Last week, as my husband and I cobbled together odds and ends from our refrigerator in an effort to squeeze in one picnic before the summer ends, I really started to regret not spending my time the way I intended. We drove up to Eagle River and sat near the beach chowing down on string cheese while I pondered where my summer went.

I was hoping summer would progress better than how it started.

In June, we needed to get my husband home to his grandfather's funeral, which is something I would have never let him miss despite a boatload of college classes he was taking and our less than favorable bank account due to funding said classes. He called from Minneapolis and told me what time I was supposed to pick him up from the Houghton County Airport and said he was on his way to catch his plane to Chicago. This is summertime, after all, so I was under the assumption he was going to get home safe and sound without issue.

A few hours later, he called to tell me his plane to Chicago was delayed and he was stuck in Minneapolis for the night. In the morning, my always optimistic husband took his flight to Chicago where he waited for his connecting flight to Houghton. Although it had been storming for a few days by that time, and I knew he would have his nose buried in a book studying for his final exam the next day, I was eager to have my husband home. Then came another few phone calls - first about a delay and second about a cancelled flight. I tell you, there's nothing like an instant crisis that can send you into a tailspin. For four grueling hours of uncertainty, my coworkers and I rushed around making phone calls in an effort to get Zach home for his early morning exam and work day.

"One-way rental cars are booked." "There is no room on the next flight to Houghton." "Buses don't travel that route." One dead end after another. After making a desperate call to a very nice woman at the Houghton County Airport, we were able to get Zach at least to Wausau, Wis., by plane.

Looking at our only option, I was prepared to do what I had to do. At 4:30 p.m., I collected my change, filled the car with gas and drove the four-hour trip to Wausau thinking, "I was young and in college once, I can pull an all-nighter again."

Since his plane was scheduled to take off around 7, I took the gamble and drove the trip, praying to the big man upstairs there wouldn't be another flight cancelled. Through thick fog and non-stop storming, we made it home at last. It was quite an adventure. Hmm, an adventure.

So while I sat there eating my string cheese and reminiscing about the summer which has nearly passed, I couldn't help but laugh to myself. Then I had a realization - summer is what you make of it. It doesn't have to have a set series of events.

Maybe the plane debacle wasn't the adventure I was looking for, but it was one nonetheless. And I may not have been to the beach sooner than that day for a picnic, but it's still not too late. Perhaps I can start my flowers early next year and I do have a new sweater for the dog she can wear on long walks when the air cools down.

What I realized is summer happens, and it's hot.

Fall is my favorite season, after all.

Stacey Kukkonen can be reached at



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