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Your McMurray Six On / Six Off

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The Good & Bad About Summer


1. The gloriously long days. It snowed late into this year. Even if it didn’t stick around, May the 10th saw white stuff coming down. Which was why the glorious contrast two days later reminds us why long days are so depression-relieving. I stood outside on my deck at 10pm. It was still light enough to read, the temperature was a balmy 15 degrees, and for that little moment, my backyard was paradise on earth.

2. The Alberta Sky. I know it’s the same sky as in winter, but we don’t get to see too much of it then. The western skies sing of Louis l’Amour and Zane Grey, of John Wayne and Dudley Do-Right. All the wild roaming open country clichés spring to mind and just for a moment you can understand why there was a romantic tinge to the push west by the new immigrants of the Northern American continent. Hard lives, but wow, what a sky.

3. BBQ Season. There is nothing more relaxing than having some friends around and throwing some meat on the barbie. Even if it’s badly cooked it’s still pretty good, and if it is done properly nothing tastes better.

4. Summer Cooking. As the crops hit our tables, I salivate at the possibilities. Berries of all kinds go into jams, salads become crunchier and fresher, and later on in the summer, Dunvegan Gardens has an astonishing array of fresh vegetables that delight the palate. My favourite whenever I go near Barrhead down south? Fresh peas in their pods. They are the perfect taste of summer.

5. Music. The digital revolution did one favour for all music lovers. It forced musicians back out on the road if they want to make money. Fort McMurray always has three or four worthwhile acts coming through, and most major tours will go through Edmonton. Watch out for Tom Petty at Rexall Place in August.

6. Baseball. Nothing says summer in North America quite like baseball. Wherever you go this summer, find a game, stretch out on the bleachers and have a hot dog and a beer. YMM has the Oil Giants and the prospect next year of a senior team but you can find a game in most major towns.


1. Body Odour. There are two kinds of summer stinkers. There’s the great unwashed, people who sweat and seem gloriously unaware that they have become offensive to be near. And then there are the over-perfumed, those who think that perspiration is a great excuse to use up that discount aftershave or eau de toilette they bought on special at the factory outlet in Vegas. Either group is noxious; both should stay inside until November.

2. Bugs. It’s not fair that we should have seven months of cold weather and five months of insects; the one should cancel the other out. But what we tend to forget is that the warmer weather brings out all these vexatious creatures who seem to want to eat you one morsel at a time. We wait all winter to get outside into the summer sun, then we don’t because of the bugs. Only in YMM.

3. Roadworks. I know they can’t be done in winter because of the weather, and I know they are a necessity. Roads need to be repaired. I get it. It doesn’t make them any less annoying. Every time two lanes narrow down to one, a little part of summer dies. And why is it that there are always workers standing around but nobody ever seems to be doing anything?

4. Sunburn. I should know better, but every summer I get caught at least once. Most of the time it’s the tops of my legs as my winter whiteness burns off in about thirty seconds sitting outside for the first bbq of the season. The pain of this burn causes me to walk like I have a carrot up my jacksie for about a week as everything rubs wrongly on my work clothes. I know it’s my fault, but I still hate it.

5. Dog Shit. You may say this is not a summer problem. You will be lying. As the snow melts the backyard is transformed into a dog poo cesspool as seven months worth of doings need to be cleaned up. Over 200 days of crap, and I suspect she goes three times a day at least, which means at least three bags full. And then you have to take it out to the dump and because its summer the dog needs to be cleaned up behind every day now to make the yard palatable. No wonder my dog treats me like her servant.

6. Blockbuster Movies. Crank up the sound and wind down the IQ levels. Summer is the season for silly movies, all trying to be the next multitudinous multiplex money maker. The trouble is they are on so many screens that the chances of seeing anything even remotely intellectual or challenging dies out until October. This year, the dive down the intelligence scale continues with Guardians of the Galaxy, where the hero is a raccoon. Yes you heard me, a $200-million movie about a raccoon. Roll on fall, please.