Dwayne’s World – The Sounds of Summer

Collage of Dwayne Benjamin, and Melmerby Beach, Nova Scotia.

Melmerby Beach, Nova Scotia – an image from Dwayne’s visit in 2012. This is the beach of Dwayne’s childhood memories, and where his parents went to when they were kids as well.

Each year it seems summer vacation can’t come soon enough, delineated for me by the Canada Day long weekend and the end of the regular school year – the ebbs and flows of the academic schedule are etched into my mental chronometer (no matter what changes we make to sessional dates).

While it’s been a busy year for all of us, and a restorative summer break is surely deserved, for those of us living in a “four season” country like Canada, summer is intrinsically special and tied to— almost assuredly — idealized childhood memories.  

I spent the formative years of my childhood in rural Nova Scotia, with old-school family picnics, trips to the beach, and summer day camps punctuating what was otherwise unstructured and seemingly endless play time with either small groups of friends (bikes and fishing rods), or bigger groups in the neighbourhood (achieving quorum for the larger scale games, e.g. Red Rover). With the idleness and leisure, boredom followed, but it was combined with summer-specific fun which served to restore and recharge me for the school year that followed. 

What sticks with me now as much as anything are the summer songs of that era, further idealizing my perspective on the season. The opening chords of “Schools Out” by Alice Cooper offer an emphatic assertion of freedom from school, while “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts (also from 1972) better captures that childhood ideal. “In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry (1970) reflcts a different vibe (with lyrics that might not fly these days) but was also endlessly played on the radio. Together with a long list of other songs (e.g., “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” Sly and the Family Stone 1969), the radio soundtrack of that era firmly planted the seeds of future nostalgia. A few years later in high school, I emphatically scratched those songs off my list – replacing them with ones that had a bit more edge (e.g., “Summertime Blues” by Eddie Cochran 1958). 

I expect each of us can assemble an impressive summer play list over the eras of our lives – possibly including some of these same songs. 

Whatever the songs may be, they reflect the importance of summer restoration to all of us, pursuing whatever our preferred leisure activities will be. Mine will be hiking in the mountains, striking a balance between isolation and good restaurants. I hope you all are able to set aside time this summer to disconnect and recharge, and I look forward to connecting with all of you in the fall. 

Dwayne Benjamin
Vice-Provost, Strategic Enrolment Management

Do you have a special summer anthem that you would like to share? Does it have the word “summer” in the title or in the lyrics? Share your summer anthem.