Bonnie Henry

Bonnie Henry

I want my summer back.

I want to be able to buy a swimsuit in late June. I want to buy a flag on July 5. I want to find flip-flops in August. Or even October.

Face it, we live in a hot climate. Yet judging by the merchandising in stores, you would think we live, oh, an hour’s drive south of Canada.

Case in point, swimsuits. I’ve railed about this before, but at least the difficulty in finding such apparel usually didn’t pop up until after the Fourth of July. Not so this year.

In late June, the granddaughters came for a visit to our White Mountains home (more about that later). Growing girls, they needed new swimsuits. So off to J.C. Penney we went. Once inside the girls’ department, we couldn’t find any suits. What we could find, however, was aisle after aisle of back-to-school uniforms. In June.

“Where are the girls’ swimsuits?” I asked a clerk.

“Oh, the ones we have left are over in clearance.,” she replied.

Elbowing our way back through the aisles of school uniforms, we managed to find a scraggly pile of girls’ swimsuits. Miracle of miracles, we actually found one that one of the girls liked. Better than that, it fit.

Not so lucky for the other girl, who’s grown into juniors’ togs. Nothing to be found at J.C. Penney there, so we headed for Walmart. Same thing, acres of school uniforms, plus a tiny clearance section for swimsuits. After much hunting and trying-on, we found a top and a bottom that would do.

“Next time, we’re shopping for swimsuits in April,” I muttered as we left the store. The day after the Fourth, I was back, looking for what I assumed would be a plethora of marked-down Independence Day merchandise. Huh-uh. Nothing to be found. Instead, workers were hauling out huge boxes of back-to-school merchandise, from pencils to lunch pails.

Actually, I blame the school calendar for this — with many schools opening their doors this year on Aug. 6, or even earlier. When I was a kid, we went back to school in Tucson the day after Labor Day, finishing up the day before Memorial Day, leaving the hottest months of June, July and August for swimming, lolling about under the cooler, and licking Popsicles.

Made sense too, since none of the schools back then were air conditioned. With the monsoon season mostly over by early September, evaporative cooling worked just fine in the schools. Today, you’d be sued if your school rooms weren’t refrigerated.

Anyway, the girls enjoyed their 12 days up here, as did the other eight relatives, ages 94 to 10 months, who spent time with us before and after the holiday. Planning for the onslaught was somewhat akin to Dwight D. Eisenhower’s preparations for D-Day. Thank heavens for blow-up mattresses and barbecue menus.

It’s been a while since I’ve had to baby-proof a living room, but that we did, removing every magazine, book and doodad that might appeal to someone still teetering around the edges of tables. Luckily, nothing was ingested that wasn’t meant to be.

Rain threatened the big parade and fireworks they have up here, but managed to hold off until both events were finished. Most of the company left the following Monday. We took the girls back to Tucson a day later, discovering that our house – and plants there – hadn’t gotten a drop of rain. Serves me right for complaining about the rain up here.

Today, the magazines are back on the coffee table, the sliding glass doors have been wiped clean of tiny prints, and I can actually see the bottom of my formerly-stuffed freezer.

It’s quiet. Too quiet. Think I’ll go shopping. If I hurry, I just may be able to catch the new Christmas merchandise displays going up by now.

Bonnie Henry’s column runs

every other Sunday. Contact her at