Darin's Point of No Return

The dog days of summer are now officially upon us.

The actual starting line of the summer season is one that is often in dispute, particularly in our largely summer-dependent business community. For some, Easter marks the start of the “business season,” as the weekenders become more prevalent, and a lot of the coastal businesses open their doors at least a couple days a week. For others, Memorial Day weekend is when things actually get going, and the lifeguards assume their chairs and the area pools open their gates. For others, well, they accept the literal definition of summer, and consider the Summer Solstice as the beginning of the season.

Whatever your flavor, we’re there now.

Personally, I tend to chart the beginning of the summer season with my trusted “Left Test.” If I go to leave our parking lot at work and can turn left, it is not the summer season. If I have to turn right, then go a few blocks, take a left, dodge two runners, a bicyclist and a herd of geese in parade formation, then take another left, swing a right before getting behind a person who can somehow manage to operate a motor vehicle at a sustained velocity of less than 1 mile-per-hour until I take another left to get to where I had started, then it’s summer.

And, apparently, it has been summer for approximately 12 years now, according to my research.

It’s been a strange couple years in a row now — in this community, across these fruited plains and in every section of this spinning globe of ours. We have seen a pandemic abruptly impact nearly every aspect of our lives, political strife not seen domestically since the 1800s, a distribution of wealth that can hardly be considered a “distribution” and war in Europe that might or might not erupt into something that completely destabilizes and imperils the rest of the planet. Oh, and a declassification of alleged UFO videos compiled by military pilots over the years.

Shouldn’t that last one be bigger news, by the way?

Regardless, we’re now officially, by any measure, in the heart of summer. It’s July 4 in less than two weeks, by the way. How did that happen so quickly?

This should be a summer that people embrace more than any other, after all we’ve collectively been through the past few years. It is a time for our visitors to come enjoy all that we have to offer, and for our locals to get back out and feel the excitement of what a “normal” season can bring. It is a year to swim in the ocean, eat soft-serve on the boardwalk and take a walk at James Farm. Or the Canal Trail. Or Holt’s Landing. Or, heck, any of the beautiful surroundings we have to offer.

And it is a time, once again, to embrace and support our local businesses — if you live here, or enjoy the memories you and your family receive each time you visit here.

A huge chunk of our community’s charm is found in the small shops, produce stands and restaurants we are fortunate enough to have here. We are not dotted with national chains on every corner, or conglomerates buying out the mom-and-pop shops.

Our businesses are unique. They are not what you’d find elsewhere, and they often depend on one another for goods and services. Pay attention to how many of our local restaurants feature products from local farms. Take note of how so many gift shops include goods made by hand by local crafters and artists. Enjoy a stroll through a local art gallery, and take in the local landscapes that inspired our artists to transfer their visions to canvas or clay or whatever medium they choose.

Strong local business translates into a strong local community. Money spent here stays here. Revenue going into the pocket of a local owner gets spent at other local restaurants and shops. At youth sports organizations. Sponsoring area charitable endeavors and community facilities.

Supporting local businesses means supporting local families. It means jobs. It means well-maintained storefronts, because the people who operate the stores are invested in those storefronts. They care. They care about their quality, and they care about this community. Every second of their lives.

It’s been a rough few years for many people here who depend on a robust summer season to make it through the rest of the year. The ingenuity and tenacity I have seen from our local business owners has both inspired and awed me, often at the same time.

Embrace what we have here, and invest in making it live long into the future. Shop local.

Executive Editor

Darin is a native of Washington, D.C, and studied journalism at Temple University. He is a combat-veteran Marine, and has worked as a reporter and editor throughout the country. He is married and has one daughter, who doubles as his harshest critic.