Best. Summer. Ever.
By Chad Kimberley
I am typing right now with a heavy heart.
Not because it has been another lost season for my beloved Chicago Cubs; I am kinda getting used to it each year. Not because I have a 1,200-page world history textbook that I am supposed to read before I try to teach an Advanced Placement class this year - and am currently on page 12. And certainly not because I have to wait another 12 months for the next edition of Shark Week and the ongoing search for Megaladon.
I am typing with a heavy heart because the days are shorter, the back-to-school shopping is completed and summer is officially coming to an end.
And this summer was awesome both locally and nationally for my family and me.
My family had a 17-day, 5,000-mile road tripping "Mount Rushmore"-styled family vacation, where we stopped at Teddy Roosevelt's national park in North Dakota, went to the Abraham Lincoln museum in Springfield, Ill., saw a Thomas Jefferson statue in a sporting goods store (still not sure about why T.J. was in a retail store) and finally celebrated the end of the journey as we sang and danced our way back into Washington State trying to see through a windshield that was the final resting place for about 1,000 Montana bugs. The only thing we didn't do was actually go to Mount Rushmore.
This vacation had all the important things you need in a long trip: food, family, friends and food. Having spent the first 30-plus years of my life in the Midwest, there are certain restaurants such as Culvers, which has the best custard that I have ever experienced, along with the local places I have enjoyed much more often than I should have over the years. And as we saw and visited with more family and friends whom they didn't remember, my kids adopted the policy of "smile and hug" as we drove our way through the Midwest.
Now as great as this vacation was in many ways, it pales to the joy we regularly find in living and experiencing summer in Liberty Lake. My Elsa-loving middle daughter was able to sing along with what looked like hundreds of other kids to "Frozen" in the park. My wife and I were able to jog our way around Liberty Lake and even place in our age division at the Liberty Lake Loop (note to others who want to medal - get older and the participants in your age group decrease). My oldest daughter swam, dove and tubed her way around the lake like a fish; thankfully she has yet to be hooked.
And of course as a family we all love going down to the farmers market, enjoying the parade and fireworks on the Fourth, playing in the parks, going to the bike race in the River District, watching a play at the community theater and taking in all the other aspects that make Liberty Lake unique and awesome.
Yet my son, my youngest child, made it the best summer for me personally.
He wanted to play catch.
You see, I am a baseball junkie. I collected baseball cards as a kid. I played baseball into college. I had my bachelor's party at Wrigley Field. And I transitioned into playing slow-pitch softball as an adult when my baseball career came to an end.
Yet through the first few years of my son's life, he did not show much interest in baseball. He loved his Legos, he loved his video games, he loved playing with his sisters, he loved to watch Star Wars with me. But baseball, not so much, despite my buying him gloves, balls and gear.
Then out of nowhere this summer as I was watching a Cubs game, my son joined me on the couch. He asked a few questions, watched a few innings and then moved on with his day. This happened a few more times before one beautiful day, as we headed down to the lake to swim, Jonathan wanted to bring his glove. He wanted to play catch.
We hit the beach, brought down a tennis ball and I started working with him on catching, throwing and fielding. He caught a few, missed a bunch, got nailed several times and managed to chuck a couple of balls into the lake. But he kept coming back for more.
Being a Midwest guy, one of the greatest movies of all time in my opinion is "Field of Dreams." Kevin Costner and his dad having a game of catch amidst the corn fields of Iowa always bring a tear or two to my eyes. Now as a Liberty Lake guy, I can't help but think there is nothing greater than standing on the beach, watching the sun set over the hills, listening to my girls splash in the lake and having a catch with my son.
Hence, why I write with a heavy heart. Summer is ending. School is starting. And baseball season is wrapping up. But the most important thing is there are only 270 days or so till summer rolls around again.
Let the countdown begin.
Chad Kimberley is a local teacher, coach and Liberty Lake resident.