From Magic City Morning Star

Down the Road
Down that (late) summer Road a Piece
By Milt Gross
Aug 30, 2015 - 4:50:24 AM

Maine has short summers and long winters. Thank God for those long winters that I hate so much. Mind you, I don't enjoy numb fingers and cold toes or trying to get the car out of a snowy spot. But winter has advantages.

I never contracted skin cancer in winter. Not one to imitate, I never wore wool shirts and wool pants like so many genuine Maineiacs don in the hot summer. I see them almost every time we're out in summer, while we're keeping the car air-conditioner on and my shorts-clad legs a bit cooler.

Melanoma occurred a few years ago. All my time in Maine since my little-noted arrival in 1965, I've worn shorts in summer. I used to often also go without a shirt. In the canoe, in the garden, on the trail, on the mountaintops when they were warm enough. Why wear a shirt, you just have to launder it.

Then in the early 1990s, I found out why I should wear a shirt in summer. I looked in the mirror and saw this horrible dark shape. Dolores looked too and declared it a horrible dark shape. About that time a hospital ran a free cancer-seeking clinic, so we attended. After telling me three times she didn't want to alarm me, so scaring me to death, the doctor announced that the horrible dark shape was melanoma, skin cancer.

A surgeon removed it, and I've never since gone without a shirt in summer. Rather be hot than have skin cancer. But I'd rather not be hot.

Winter takes care of that problem. Fall is better yet, cool enough to want to wear a shirt but not cold enough for all that heavy outwear.

What understrengthed wimp wants to skip that beautiful tan in summer? This one does. (I just invented that word "understrengthed" because who wants to describe oneself as a 97-pound -- or 197-pound for that matter -- weakling.

But I still love summer to some degree. When we can sit by the town dock, enjoying the sea breeze and watching the seagulls frantically search for lunch or dinner, depending on the time of day. I've had them gather around in summer, try to mob the sandwich out of my hand, scare me with their crowds and screeches, and conduct other threatening activities.

In the winter that doesn't happen, not only because I don't sit on picnic tables nibbling a sandwich, but primarily because that park with the picnic table is closed in winter. I've often wondered how those seagulls survive all winter without my sandwich bits.

We have left our house and now reside in a nice retirement apartment complex, where somebody else cuts the grass and makes those awful house repairs, such as the leaking faucet a plumber is currently supposed to be taking apart. Of course it's still summer, but I'm enjoying those joys of summer a bit more. I'm not cutting the grass or swearing at the leaking faucet.

Even though I dislike cutting the summer lawn, fighting off the summer bugs, and risking melanoma in my summer garb, I have to admit Belfast bay is a lot more enjoyable in summer. Milt Gross photo.

I do enjoy the longer daylight hours of summer, I have to admit. Going to work in the dark at 5 a.m. in the cold never really made my day. Getting up at 8 a.m., hours after daylight has arrived, I have to admit is much more fun. Even though I'm retired.

I also have to admit, I do enjoy hearing those birds singing well before I climb out of bed in the morning. That never happens in those cold-weather winters.

Hey, looking back at what I just banged out on the iMac, maybe I do enjoy summer more.

As long as I can avoid summer colds and melanoma.

And in summer I can sing, as I can't in winter -- for which others are thankful, "In the good old summertime."

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2015

© Copyright 2002-2014 by Magic City Morning Star