Gather ye spiders while ye may


During some years, when I see June on the calendar I might wince. Not because of what June means, but because of what is doesn’t mean. For me, these days, it’s just another month. I remember when June really meant something. Now? Not much.

June used to be the door to freedom. That’s when school got out. The entire summer was stretched out in front of us like a freshly cut lawn, a lush expanse of promise and fun. I doubt that anybody can outgrow that notion. Well, I can’t, anyway.

Despite the excitement that June brought, there could be problems. Mom once enrolled me in Vacation Bible School. I appealed this decision to Dad on the grounds that if it’s vacation it’s not school, and if it’s school, it’s not vacation. That’s the best kind of argument because of its symmetrical elegance.

Dad agreed. He granted a reprieve.

Meanwhile, my pal, Phil, called to ask if I wanted to go catching spiders. That was good timing because I was all out of spiders. Phil reported a bumper crop near the dead dog by the elm tree. We prepared an expedition. The promise of summer really is limitless.

But the reality still had fetters. Before I could slip out the door with my spider jar, my reprieve was canceled. Mom refused to acknowledge Dad’s jurisdiction in the matter, and she overturned his reprieve on the grounds of “Because I said so.”

Although this ruling lacked both elegance and symmetry, I was trapped. So this ruined part of that summer. I’m happy to report that Phil was a true friend, though. He kept me supplied with fresh spiders, even a few of the short-legged juicy ones that were so coveted.

Even after our school years, my pals and I, as young professionals, managed to finesse our ways through June. It didn’t take much, a couple of long weekends, and a few days when we’d slink out of the office early so we could enjoy the weather. This was an accepted practice.

June hadn’t lost its meaning yet. It still had flavor.

Then one year came along when I was entombed in the office all the time, staring at spreadsheets, and June managed to sneak up on me. That’s a moment that shall live in infamy. I remember sitting in a meeting with the bean-counters, and, while I tried to feign interest in some issue of profound insignificance, a flash of realization hit me: It was mid-June! Dang, how’d that happen?

I didn’t know how it happened, but I felt instantly old at that point.

Meanwhile, the younger set tells me that there’s no wiggle room in June, or any other month, in the workplace these days. Sauntering out the door at noon on a sunny Thursday and not coming back is not an accepted practice.

Of course, you can always take vacation, but that’s not really the same thing, because, unless all your friends are also taking vacation, you’re up against scheduling issues, and the whole idea is to ease up on this schedule thing, not to just change its syntax.

June is the one time of year when you’re most likely to find comfortable weather anywhere between Bethel, Alaska and Biscayne, Florida. Of course, Saipan isn’t in that mix, since it’s sort of June all year around in the islands.

I’ve never looked into the matter, but it’s reasonable to guess that, back in the old days, schools let out for summer so kids could help out on the family farms. That’s the opposite of vacation in my book. Farm work is hard.

With that in mind, I guess I’ll count my blessings, even though, once again, I’ve been surprised by June’s arrival. It makes me feel old again. So my advice is to gather ye spiders while ye may, and if you want to know why, it’s because I said so.

Ed Stephens Jr. | Special to the Saipan Tribune
Visit Ed Stephens Jr. at His column runs every Friday.

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