I am not a summer kind of person. I prefer the transitional seasons: the subtle liveliness that creeps into spring, or autumn’s graceful slip toward stark, cold darkness. That being said, I appreciate the simple purity that inhabits summer alone. At the height of the season—when the days are long, the sunshine is constant, and the air is always warm—time seems to stand still. This lends a particularly uncomplicated feel to the simple pleasures that filled my childhood summers. My stepdad arranged yearly treks to Fuller Lake at Pine Grove Furnace State Park with just this experience in mind. With nearly 30 people, we played games until the heat overwhelmed us, swam to cool off, devoured absolute tons of burgers and hot dogs straight from the charcoal grill with juicy, cold fruit from a nearby orchard, and then started all over again.
On our last trip, the summer after I graduated from high school, my brother and some of his friends wanted to stage a photo of them all suspended mid-jump. I took a handful of shots, but we never achieved perfect coordination. My brother (right) was mostly in sync with his friend on the left, but their friend in the middle had way more advanced jumping and posing skills. Another friend provided moral support in the background. It took every ounce of my strength to stop laughing long enough to release the shutter. Meanwhile, the rest of our group played a friendly ultimate frisbee match in the huge clearing that we staked out every year. Each of my “failed” photos froze a different moment in this sprawling action scene, but all of them capture our pure, uncomplicated joy.