Grasshopper soup: shorts, T-shirts and flip flops |

Grasshopper soup: shorts, T-shirts and flip flops

Sailboats on Tahoe are the first flags of summer, in close competition with the unfurling of shorts, T-shirts and flip flops. Locals have been braving summer attire for weeks, dressing according to the calendar, in defiance of the weather. Even before it is really upon us, we gladly surrender our multiple winter layers to announce the arrival of that strange season we mountain people vaguely remember and#8212; Summer! Is it here yet?

When the wind is as light and as true as the lake and sky are blue, sails replace snowflakes on the water, and summer gets a lift on gentle waves of freedom.

It was a stirring Memorial Day weekend. Those clouds and rain drops you saw on Monday, that was just a mirage. It didnand#8217;t really happen. Local die hards were out in force flying their freak flags, the usual, you guessed it, and if it deserves mentioning once itand#8217;s worth mentioning again; shorts, T-shirts and flip flops. Oh, there was a little grumbling here and there about the clouds and drizzle we all enjoyed ignoring, but the joy of longer days, early morning light and summer warmth quickly replaced the forbidden curses we let slip from our sun starved lips.

Even the early morning was warm. At least, not cold enough to turn the heater on or light a fire, unless you wanted to enhance the special mountain mood, as if a morning in Tahoe isnand#8217;t already enchanting enough. Just being here is enough to warm the heart.

Sleeping in can do it too. On a cool Tahoe morning, sometimes thereand#8217;s nothing better than staying cuddled up under a thick quilt. You canand#8217;t fool me, I know you like to laze around. How fine it would be to do it every morning.

But then, by 7:30, maybe 10:30, we start feeling a little guilty. So we get out of bed and set up all the junk outside for the garage sale, and our innocence is restored. We sell the guitar and the electric, rechargeable Razor scooter, the Con-Air water jet foot massager, a few knick knacks, outgrown clothes and the rickety old rocking chair; then off we go to the barbecue, pale legs and bellies parading around in none other than what? You guessed it, shorts, T-shirts and flip flops.

Our Memorial Day weekend was precious, costly freedom enjoyed. Hopefully more than that. Cherished. Savored. Our inconveniences, interruptions and foiled plans laughed at in honor of those who have gone before us, suffering far greater horrors, dying so that we may live, so that we may be free.

I remember an old friend of mine once said that, if the west coast of the United States were ever invaded by a foreign power, he would run the other way as fast as he could and get as far away as possible from all the killing. On one level you could say that makes sense. On another level you could say running is the ultimate act of selfishness.

Hopefully none of us will ever have to choose between self preservation and giving our life so that others can live, between saving our own life or defending the lives of our fellow man. Which choice allows you to give more? Which choice takes more love?

Heroes and cowards will be defined, justly or unjustly, by the choice they make.

A man kills a bear cub in Tahoma and some want to run him out of town. That is typical. Typical only continues the cycle of violence. We can do better than typical. The emotion of anger may be justified, but acting on it is not.

Either we choose to continue the killing by giving in to our animal instincts, or we choose to forgive, to live and let live. If we join the cycle of violence, our protest against it means nothing.

It makes more sense to run around in shorts, T-shirts and flip flops.

Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, ski instructor and commercial driver. He’s lived at Lake Tahoe for 27 years.

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