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Paul Turner: We all have a different way of welcoming summer

The setting sun turns the smoky haze a burnt orange as a passenger jet prepares to land at Spokane International Airport Thursday August 19, 2010. (Christopher Anderson / The Spokesman-Review)
The setting sun turns the smoky haze a burnt orange as a passenger jet prepares to land at Spokane International Airport Thursday August 19, 2010. (Christopher Anderson / The Spokesman-Review)

Opinions vary about just when summer begins.

At least for those who aren’t wedded to the whole solstice thing.

So here are a few possible answers. Feel free to select the one that best suits your needs.

Summer begins … The first time you see a little kid on hands and knees staring at the ground and realize he or she is intently watching bugs.

Brian Wilson’s birthday (June 20).

The first time a grandchild throws up on an amusement park ride, spewing four hours’ worth of snacks over a widely dispersed area.

When your friend, Leonard, recalls in great detail how miniature golf was an important first-date option for the pre-driver’s license set.

When your grandson finally asks to what extent your stories about adventures at the drive-in theater are significantly embellished.

The first time you strap on a life preserver.

The first time your dad appears in his classic “Salute to the Northwest” ensemble of shorts, sandals and white socks.

When, after ignoring your repeated pleas about wearing sunscreen, your friend gets a sunburn.

The first time you decide that what this particular occasion needs is a water balloon.

You hear Spirit’s “I Got a Line on You” for the first time in years.

When the person steering the boat starts calling you “Mr. Hooper” while doing his impression of Quint in “Jaws.”

When you find yourself trying to explain the difference between a slider and a curveball to someone who isn’t a sports fan.

When you jump off the dock.

When, in Wiffle Ball, you throw down your yellow bat and start moving menacingly toward the “mound” after a pitch sails behind your head.

Your sheared sheep haircut is so short it prompts your Vietnam veteran grandfather to say, “Well, I see you re-upped.”

Your softball team fires you as manager.

You find yourself sitting out on the deck and discussing just what songs ice cream trucks should play.

The first time someone wonders aloud what those baseball cards he put in his bike spokes might be worth now.

Your grandkids don’t believe you when you tell them there was a national line of drink mixes in the ’60s called “Funny Face” that used several arguably racist names and images.

You find yourself telling someone comic books cost 12 cents once upon a time.

Expressing innocent praise for a watermelon or tomato within earshot of a sweaty baby boomer starts an argument.

Before the burgers are served, your nephew cheerfully details a few of the inherent E. coli contamination risks with ground beef.

When Uncle Bob tells his first Expo ’74 story of the season. “There I was …”

You make a long putt and your playing partners laugh.

Inexplicably, you find yourself staring down the barrel of a squirt gun as your cousin’s 12-year-old daughter recites a few famous lines from a “Dirty Harry” movie made long before she was born. “Well, do ya, punk?”

A stranger standing next to you in the grocery store checkout line says you smell like chlorine.

On a long family road trip, your dad finally admits that his whole “We’re making good time”/ “Don’t make me pull over” spiel is actually an homage to his own father’s summer vacation stylings.

The first email your kid sends you from summer camp has “Bustin’ out of here” in the subject line.

The raccoon in your tent is the only one who isn’t complaining about the camping trip.

Your favorite baseball team is mathematically eliminated from the pennant race.

You put your flag out for Memorial Day and someone steals it.

Your teenage daughter all but dares you say something about her new swimsuit.

You find yourself at a theater showing a summer blockbuster and by about halfway through you are sort of hoping every character in the movie dies.

You discover that you and your spouse are not the only couple in Spokane to have settled on “Going to the lake” as a euphemism for intimate social congress.

A co-worker refers to your fondness for Hawaiian shirts as “Seven Days in May.”

A kid who has been watching an ancient beach-frolic movie asks if you knew Annette Funicello and you answer, “Not biblically.”

You recall, for the first time in ages, that one summer long ago when your appearance changed in a dramatic way.

Someone old enough to have memories that go back to the late 1980s mentions the Spokane Grand Prix.

When your cat starts munching on slugs in the yard after the sprinklers shut off.

You tell the kid who just mowed your lawn that she missed a spot.

You look up and around for birds as you contemplate taking the top down on your convertible for the first time this year.

You wonder if those shorts still fit.

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached at