Tags Posts tagged with "Summer"


Image from BNL

Every year, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory opens its gates to thousands of community members for open house events called Summer Sundays. Visitors get to meet the Lab’s scientists and tour a different world-class science facility each week, including the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), and the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN)—all DOE Office of Science User Facilities.

Following the success of Brookhaven’s virtual Summer Sundays program in 2020 and to continue limiting the spread of COVID-19, the Lab is bringing back its online Summer Sunday program for 2021. Over three Sundays this summer, Brookhaven will host a series of live, virtual events for people of all ages. Each event will feature a guided tour of a Brookhaven Lab facility and live Q&A sessions with a panel of scientists.

Brookhaven Lab plans to return to an in-person public tour format for Summer Sundays 2022, as conditions permit.



Schedule of events

NSLS-II: Sunday, July 25 at 3:30 p.m. ET

Tune in to get an up-close look at some of the “beamlines” where scientists use ultrabright x-ray light to see the atomic structure of batteries, proteins, and more. Viewers will have the opportunity to pose questions to NSLS-II scientists about each beamline on the tour and all of the research conducted at NSLS-II. Watch on TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

RHIC: Sunday, August 1 at 3:30 p.m. ET

Join Brookhaven scientists as they explore the physics of particle colliders, including RHIC and the upcoming Electron-Ion Collider (EIC). Get a behind-the-scenes look at RHIC’s operations, then scientists for a Q&A session where they’ll take viewers’ questions about RHIC and the EIC. Watch on TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

CFN: Sunday, August 8 at 3:30 p.m. ET

Investigate our world at the nanoscale with CFN, where scientists will show viewers the sophisticated microscopes and research tools they use to observe ultrasmall science. Viewers will have the opportunity to pose questions to CFN scientists about each scientific instrument on the tour and all of the research conducted at CFN. Watch on TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

More details about these events will be announced soon. For the most up-to-date information, follow Brookhaven Lab on Facebook or visit the Summer Sundays website.

How to watch and ask questions

Each of the Lab’s live Summer Sundays events will be streamed to TwitterFacebook, and YouTube. At the time of the event, the live stream will be pinned to the top of Brookhaven’s profile on each platform. You do not need to have a Twitter, Facebook, or Google account to watch the stream.

Viewers are encouraged to submit their questions for the Q&A segment in advance through the Lab’s social media accounts or by sending an email to [email protected]. Live questions will also be accepted during the Q&A through the chat functions on all streaming platforms mentioned above.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.

Follow @BrookhavenLab on Twitter or find us on Facebook.

The Perfect Summertime Pie

(Culinary.net) Summer is the time to relax, refresh and indulge in sweet and heavenly treats. While you’re lounging poolside and watching the kids play, enjoy a cool, creamy and absolutely divine dessert that’s perfect on a hot day.

This luscious Coconut Key Lime Cream Pie has a smooth texture with toasted shredded coconut on top. It’s sweet, but not too sweet, and will leave your taste buds wanting more as soon as you take your first bite.

Fresh out of the refrigerator, it’s ideal for everyone to share on those days when it’s just too warm outside to not have a chilled snack.

Also topped with lime zest and maraschino cherries, visually this pie is a winner with fun pops of color that will leave your mouth watering.

It’s the perfect pie to enjoy whether you’re outside enjoying some sunshine or inside, taking a break from the summer fun. After being chilled, all of the flavors combine to leave you with a delicious, one of a kind treat.

Find more summer recipes at Culinary.net.

If you made this recipe at home, use #MyCulinaryConnection on your favorite social network to share your work.

Coconut Key Lime Cream Pie

YIELD: Servings: 6-8


1 package (11 ounces) vanilla wafers

1/3 cup butter, melted

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup Key lime juice, divided

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon coconut extract

1 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup toasted shredded coconut

lime zest

maraschino cherries


In blender, pulse vanilla wafers into crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until combined. Press crumbs into bottom and up sides of greased 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie plate. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

In large bowl, beat whipping cream until it thickens. Add confectioners’ sugar and 1 tablespoon lime juice; beat until stiff peaks form. Remove 1 cup; set aside.

In separate large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk and coconut extract; beat until blended. Add remaining lime juice and shredded coconut; stir until combined. Add reserved whipped cream. Stir until combined. Pour into crust.

Refrigerate 4 hours.

Before serving, garnish with toasted coconut, lime zest and maraschino cherries.

See video here:

*This recipe originally appeared in TBR News Media’s Prime Times supplement on July 15, 2021.

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Pixabay photo

Enjoy Summer Fun by Protecting Your Skin

Layla Barrera, DO

Whether it’s trips to Long Island’s beautiful beaches or gatherings with family and friends at a backyard pool, area residents will be spending more time outside soaking up the sun’s rays.

While the sun feels great on your skin, it can cause irreversible damage. The good news is with a few simple steps you can safely enjoy the sun. Catholic Health’s Ambulatory Care at Bay Shore Primary Care Physician Layla Barrera, DO, shared several tips to help you avoid skin damage.

Q: How do I protect myself and still be in the sun?

A: To avoid painful burns, you should wear clothing such as long-sleeve shirts and long pants. Choose items that are thinner and lighter in weight. A hat with a wide brim will protect your face. Don’t forget your eyes. Use sunglasses. It’s also important to use sunscreen on any skin that remains exposed. 

Q: Which sunscreen is the most effective?

A: Sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection with an SPF of greater than 30 is most effective. It’s also best to use cream sunscreens and avoid the aerosols because they may not cover an entire area evenly. 

Q: What extra precautions are needed when spending time at the beach or pool?

A: Wear water-resistant sunscreen. If that’s not an option, reapply sunscreen every two hours to make sure swimming or perspiration hasn’t diminished its effectiveness.

Q: For those who spend extensive time outdoors, how often should they check their skin for moles or damage?

A: While there are no specific guidelines, for those with a family history of skin cancer, an annual screening is recommended. Basal cell skin cancers are the most common type of skin cancer. It starts in the top layer of the skin and is often related to sun exposure. If not removed completely, basal cell carcinoma can recur in the same place on the skin. People who have had basal cell skin cancers are also more likely to get new ones in other places.

Q: What signs should we look for in moles?

A: We use the ‘ABCDE’ method when it comes to examining moles. 

  • A – Asymmetry: One half does not match the other.
  • B – Border irregularity: Melanoma lesions usually have irregular borders that are difficult to define.
  • C – Color: A variety of colors such as black, brown and tan.
  • D – Diameter: Grows larger than the size of a pencil eraser (about ¼ of an inch).
  • E – Evolving: This has become the most important factor to consider when it comes to diagnosing melanoma. If a mole is changing, it’s concerning.

Q: How does a primary care physician help patients identify unusual moles or other skin defects?

A: A primary care physician will look for any abnormalities as part of a physical examination. If they identify something abnormal, they will refer the patient to a dermatologist for further examination. They will also discuss preventive measures to protect the skin.

About Catholic Health

Catholic Health is an integrated system encompassing some of the region’s finest health and human services agencies. The health system has nearly 17,400 employees, 6 acute care hospitals, 3 nursing homes, a home nursing service, hospice and a network of physician practices.

Fusilli with Basil Pesto and Confetti Veggies. METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Summer pastas take advantage of the season’s bounty and feature veggies and herbs and other warm weather flavors that go hand in hand with the outdoors where the livin’ is easy.  They’re light, they’re colorful and they’re savory. And like the livin’, they’re easy to put together. My favorite is a pasta with lemon and herbs. Of course, there’s pasta with pesto which is wonderful on its own and even more wonderful with the addition of finely diced summer veggies. And if spring and summer take you fishing, boating or beaching and you get a hankering for seafood, there’s pasta with crabmeat and peas.

Farfalle with Lemon and Herbs

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


1 pound farfalle pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 garlic clove, bruised

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley leaves

1/4 cup snipped fresh garlic chives

1 tablespoon (T) fresh lemon thyme leaves

1 T chopped fresh lemon verbena leaves

1 T chopped fresh lemon balm leaves

1 T finely grated lemon zest

2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

1/2 to 2/3 cup pasta water


Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a large deep skillet heat olive oil and butter over medium heat; add garlic clove and cook one or two minutes until it releases its aroma; remove and discard. Add basil, parsley, chives, thyme, verbena, lemon balm, zest, and juice, salt and pepper; cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat. When pasta is just al dente, drain and add to skillet with the half to two-thirds cup pasta water; over medium-low heat, toss to  coat thoroughly. Serve hot or warm with fresh sliced tomatoes and mozzarella.

Fusilli with Basil Pesto and Confetti Veggies

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


1 pound fusilli

8 to 10 large sprigs of basil, leaves removed

1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano cheese

1/2 cup pignoli nuts

1 large garlic clove

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup or more pasta water, if needed

1 small zucchini, cut into half-inch dice

1 medium potato, peeled and cut into half-inch dice

1 medium tomato, seeds removed, cut into half-inch dice


Cook fusilli according to package directions. Meanwhile place basil, cheese, nuts, garlic, 3/4 cup of the oil, salt and pepper in bowl of electric food processor. Puree mixture, scraping bowl often, until it is smooth and turns a light green color; if it seems too thick, add pasta water a tablespoonful at a time until right consistency is achieved; set aside. In large skillet heat remaining oil over medium-high heat; add zucchini, potato and tomato and saute, stirring frequently until tender, about 5 minutes. In large pasta bowl, toss pesto and pasta together, sprinkle with sautéed veggies and serve hot, warm or at room temperature with a crusty bread.

Capellini with Crabmeat and Peas

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


1 pound capellini (very thin spaghetti)

1 pound fresh or frozen shelled peas

8 ounces unsalted butter

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves

1/4 cup fresh snipped chives

1/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano cheese

Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over


Cook pasta according to package directions but 3 minutes before end of cooking time add peas to pasta water and continue to cook until it is al dente. Meanwhile, in a very large skillet over moderate heat, melt butter; add herbs. Add pasta and peas, grated cheese, half a cup (more if needed) of pasta water, salt and pepper to skillet. Tossing constantly, continue cooking the mixture over low heat until pasta is coated with a light creamy sauce, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add crabmeat and cook over medium-low heat, just enough to heat through, about a minute or two. Serve hot or warm with an arugula salad and crisp dry white wine.

METRO photo

With the Memorial Day weekend behind us, it’s time to enjoy outdoor get-togethers such as barbecues and lazy days on the beach. Unfortunately, this time of year also means more drivers under the influence on our roads and more inexperienced ones, too. 

When attending a party, it’s pretty simple. If you plan on drinking alcohol or ingesting other substances that can impair your senses, make sure you have a plan. There is no excuse for driving under the influence. Once upon a time, someone who planned on drinking needed to have a designated driver, plan to sleep over at the place where they were partying or call a taxi. Sometimes many partiers found themselves with a designated person who decided they would have a little fun, too. Or, with no room to sleep at the house where the party was held or a taxi that never showed up, they then got behind the wheel of a car and took off. Nowadays, with phone apps to order car services such as Uber or Lyft, there’s no excuse for driving under the influence of any substance.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2019, 10,142 people lost their lives due to drunk-driving crashes in the U.S. That’s 10,142 lives that were lost unnecessarily. But there is even more to watch out for on the road during those hot months besides drunk drivers. 

Memorial Day to Labor Day has become known as the “100 deadliest days” of the year as the teen driver death rate increases. According to AAA, from the unofficial start of summer to its unofficial end, there are “more fatal crashes per day, on average, involving teen drivers compared to the rest of the year.”

A study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found more than 7,000 teens died in such crashes from 2010-19 in the U.S. In New York state, during the same period, 473 teen drivers died in car crashes. Risk factors include teens lack of driving skills and experiences behind the wheel and the unstructured time that summer brings with kids out of school and not having as many activities such as sports and clubs. There are also other risk factors such as texting while driving, running red lights, driving aggressively and not wearing a seat belt.

What can one do when they’re traveling the roads besides watching out for drivers who are weaving in or out or running red lights? The best thing is to set an example of good driving habits on the road, especially when young people are in the passenger seats, which means cinching that seat belt, no texting or talking on the phone, no eating or drinking while steering.

And to play a part in keeping impaired drivers off the road, of course, when you’re hosting a party, make arrangements for your guests who will be indulging themselves.

The summertime should be time for fun, not for tears. Let’s keep the roads in our community safe, not only for the next few months but all year long. It just takes making a few wise decisions.

The Suffolk County Water Authority is urging customers to turn off their taps.

SCWA has asked residents to take measures to reduce their water use after it hit an all-time high water pumping figure amid a heat wave in the area. This month, a water pumping figure of 545,726 gallons-per-minute across the authority’s service territory broke a previous record of 542,610 gallons-per-minute set in July of 2016. 

SCWA, which services approximately 1.2 million Suffolk County residents, has sent emails and recorded phone messages to customers in recent weeks in an effort to make sure there is sufficient water supply for emergencies. The authority says customers should adjust their irrigation controllers to water no more than every other day and avoid setting controllers to operate between peak pumping hours of 3 a.m. to 7 a.m.

During the summer months, water usage increases as customers refill pools, water lawns and gardens. 

“We need cooperation from our customers to make sure that firefighters have sufficient water pressure to battle fires and that hospitals have sufficient water pressure to take care of patients,” said SCWA Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Szabo. “We need people to get this message loud and clear — change your watering habits today and help to ensure there is a sufficient water supply for everyone.”

The Long Island Water Conference, which is made up of water providers, has recommended that residents shorten irrigation system watering time by five minutes, check their irrigation system for leaks and consider replacing a standard irrigation with a smart irrigation controller.

For more ideas about how to conserve water, customers are urged to go to ourwaterourlives.com. 

Photo from U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary

By Herb Herman

Boating safely is more than common sense. While you don’t have to memorize the marine Rules of the Road to be a safe boater, a careful reading would be beneficial for every boater. Pass oncoming boats port-to-port, always have a look out, have a marine radio available and preferably tuned to channel 16. Use charts so you don’t go aground. Reduce speed in harbors and in tight quarters. Know what the buoys and other channel markers mean, and, above all, be mindful of your environment. The Coast Guard calls this “situational awareness,” a mindset that is useful anywhere and at anytime doing anything, though it’s especially important out on the water. 

Old salts, the veteran hands of boats and sailing, are not born that way — they learn by experience. There is, however, a better way: take a boating safety course. These days, thankfully, boating safety courses are required in most states. These courses are given by government and private parties. The Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Power Squadron give excellent programs that are tried and true and can get a dedicated novice up to speed in a few hours. The problem is getting boaters to sign up for these courses. We have all kinds of excuses, ranging from limited time in our busy lives to talk of, “boating is like driving, all you have to do is steer the boat.” 

But boating is not so simple an activity. Steering a boat is nothing like driving a car. In driving, does the road flow in a direction different from the one you’re going? When’s the last time you’ve seen a road center lines on the water? Does the wind usually effect your driving? Put simply, boating is a unique activity and one that takes some learning to be proficient at.

Granted, there is no better teacher than experience. However, most of us didn’t learn how to drive by getting behind the wheel and driving. We usually took driver training course.  What, then, makes us think that handling a boat doesn’t require training? One full day or a couple of afternoon training sessions can add immeasurably to your enjoyment on the water and may even add years to your life. 

A central feature of the Coast Guard’s safety mantra is the Personal Floatation Device, i.e., life jackets. It is estimated that life jackets could have saved the lives of over 80 percent of boating fatality victims. Accidents can and do happen with terrifying speed on the water. There’s rarely time to reach stowed life jackets. These days floatation aids can be comfortable, so there is no excuse for not wearing one, except for, perhaps, your vanity. Doesn’t look good? How does a drowning victim look after being pulled from the water?

In fact, life jackets are required for jet skiers and paddle boaters. There are other requirements for these activities, all based on common sense. But common sense is sometimes lacking on the water. Observed in Mount Sinai Harbor last summer, a young woman on a stand-up paddler with a young child sitting there, neither of whom had on life jackets. And there are kayakers in Port Jefferson Harbor, silently gliding in and out of the mooring field while an equally mindless power boater heedlessly plows his way between the mooring buoys. These situations are disasters waiting to happen.

We have every opportunity to make this summer’s boating a safe one. Safe boating classes are readily available. Make it a family affair. Make your dream on the water come true and not end tragically. Have the family don their vests and tell them they look great. Don’t boat under the influence. Avoid speeding when it is clearly dangerous. Adhere to regulations that are posted for No Wake, etc. Make certain that your mechanical systems are functioning properly. Be prepared for someone falling overboard or some other accident. And above all, have a Vessel Safety Examination by the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Contact the Port Jefferson Flotilla to arrange an inspection: email: [email protected] or phone: 631-938-1705.

Have a great family summer on the water!

Herb Herman is the flotilla staff officer for public affairs, Port Jefferson Auxiliary Flotilla 14-22-06.

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Schools are out, or almost out, trees are lush with leaves, people are beginning to wear shorts and sandals, and the temperatures are finally approaching the high 80s. It seems to have stopped raining. The lines after dinner at ice cream parlors stretch out the door and down the street. Dogs have their tongues hanging out when being walked. And it’s light until almost 9 p.m. Summer, glorious summer, has truly arrived.

It has been many years since my children enjoyed summer break from school’s routine and therefore I with them. Yet the feeling of relaxation that summer ushers in still floods my being. This is the time to make a barbecue and invite friends, enjoy the summer sky over some nice port in the long evening, lounge in the backyard, splash at the beach, watch a baseball game, sleep in a bit and read, read, read those books and magazines that have piled up on the bedside table all year long. It’s also the time to sail, swim, play, get lost on long walks and, in so many other ways, rejoice in the outdoors. There is even time to think.

Here is something tantalizing to think about. A letter published on the website Medium.com Monday, written and signed by a group of 18 billionaires, from 11 families, including financier George Soros, co-founder of Facebook Chris Hughes, Abigail Disney and heirs to the Pritzker fortune, Liesel and Ian Simmons, urged government to tax them at a higher rate. They called for “a moderate wealth tax on the fortunes of the richest one-tenth of the richest 1 percent of Americans — on us.”

Over the last three decades, the wealth of the top 1 percent grew by $21 trillion. Who can even visualize such sums? But the wealth of the bottom 50 percent fell by $900 billion — not hard to visualize by comparison because we can see the effects on American lives. 

The letter follows a similar declaration by investment guru Warren Buffett in 2011 encouraging greater tax on the richest. He revealed that his effective tax rate was actually lower than that of any other 20 people in his office. 

The richest pay 3.2 percent of their wealth in taxes versus 7.2 percent from the bottom 99 percent. President Barack Obama (D) picked up the suggestion at the time and called for a 30 percent tax for that population, dubbing it the “Buffett rule.” Not only was that never enacted, the latest round of tax cuts under President Donald Trump (R) have particularly helped those same richest Americans.

The Monday letter was addressed to all presidential contenders. Elizabeth Warren, U.S. senator from Massachusetts and Democratic hopeful, has proposed a comparable strategy, recommending that those who have $50 million or more in assets, like stocks, bonds, yachts, cars and art, be subject to a wealth tax. That would include some 75,000 families and raise, in her estimation, $2.75 trillion over the next 10 years. That money could be put toward better child care, helping with education debt and the opioid and climate crises. Such a tax would strengthen American freedom and democracy and would be patriotic, it is claimed. Surveys show that about seven out of 10 people support this concept.

In 2014 Nick Hanauer, a successful Seattle entrepreneur, wrote a memo to “my fellow zillionaires” in which he advised the following: “[We are] thriving beyond dreams of any plutocrats in history, [while] the rest of the country — the 99.99 percent — is lagging far behind. If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us.”

How is that for some heady stuff to occupy the mind and lessen any lazy guilt as our bodies are stretched out on the lounge?

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Port Jefferson High School. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Most school district administrators and staff, like students and teachers, are able to take the summer to recharge and unwind. In Port Jefferson School District, Fred Koelbel, director of facilities and transportation, gets no such respite.

The overseer of all things buildings and grounds in the district was at the Sept. 17 board of education meeting to fill the board and the public in on the work done during the summer months and beyond. Some projects were completed using capital reserves while others were handled “in-house” by district employees, though virtually all were completed prior to the start of the 2018-19 school year.

“We had the opportunity to see a lot of these improvements firsthand, and I certainly would commend the staff that worked on them, it was impressive,” board President Kathleen Brennan said.

Koelbel spoke about some of the bigger projects accomplished by his team of workers.

“The biggest project we undertook, and it actually started before the summer, was the complete renovation of the electrical distribution system in the high school,” Koelbel said.

Beginning during spring break, Hauppauge-based All Service Electric Inc. re-fed power lines through underground trenches. Previously, power lines from outdoor polls into the school were fed along overhead lines, susceptible to the elements and to trees. The job was completed during the summer.

“This did two things for us — now if our power goes out, part of the grid went out and we’re much higher priority to get restored,” Koelbel said. “Before when it was, a tree knocked down a line on our property, it was just our property was out, and the neighborhood might still be on and we might not be as high of a priority. But now we also have more reliable service because it’s underground, so it’s not affected by the trees.”

He said the task wasn’t easy for the vendor and commended the job.

“It snowed on them, it rained, the trenches filled up with water, their boots were getting stuck in the mud and the clay, but they persevered and got lines in,” he said. “We couldn’t be happier with the work they did.”

The new underground feeds will soon also house the school’s cable and phone lines, eliminating the need for any cables fed to the school overhead.

Many of the projects were simpler to complete, though not necessarily less time consuming. The high school track was torn up and resurfaced. The second phase of a multiyear roof replacement project continued. Sidewalks in front of the high school were replaced, as were crumbling bricks in the façade of the exterior of the building. The section of the high school driveway nearest to the main entrance on Barnum Avenue was repaved.

One of the more visually noticeable upgrades took place in the high school gymnasium. Koelbel said a new sound system and video board were installed, and the walls were repainted purple and white.

“It really has a flavor of ‘welcome to our house,’” he said of the refurbished gym.

In the elementary school, the floors of two classrooms were removed and replaced, as were the carpeted floors in a couple of hallways.

“It’s like a huge Petri dish, it’s not a good choice,” he said of carpeting in elementary school hallways, which was replaced with tile flooring.

Several doors to classrooms in the elementary school were replaced as part of another multiyear implementation, as many were beginning to show their age, according to Koelbel. Door locks in both school buildings were upgraded as well.

Blinds on the windows of classrooms in both buildings were replaced with rolling shades. Additional security cameras were added across district buildings, as were fire extinguishers for every classroom, and several fire alarms were also upgraded at the high school.

District Superintendent Paul Casciano and Assistant Superintendent Sean Leister each commended Koelbel and the district’s staff for completing the projects in time for the start of school.

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Summer is about to end, and with it the most mellow time of the year. I’d like to leave this season with a gentle and accurate message that came from the internet and resonates with me:

A newlywed young man was sitting on the porch on a humid day, sipping ice tea with his father. As he talked about adult life, marriage responsibilities and obligations, the father thoughtfully stirred the ice cubes in his glass and cast a clear, sober look on his son.

“Never forget your friends,” he advised, “they will become more important as you get older. Regardless of how much you love your family, you will always need friends. Remember to go out with them occasionally — if possible — but keep in contact with them somehow.”

“What strange advice!” thought the young man. “I just entered the married world. I am an adult and surely my wife and the family that we will start will be everything I need to make sense of my life.”

Yet he obeyed his father, kept in touch with his friends and annually increased their number. Over the years, he became aware that his father knew what he was talking about.

Inasmuch as time and nature carry out their designs and mysteries on a person, friends are the bulwarks of our life. After 70-plus years of life, here is what he, and you, and I will have learned:

Time passes.

Life goes on.

Children grow up. They cease to be children and become independent. And to the parents, it breaks their hearts but the children are separated from the parents because they begin their own families.

Jobs/careers come and go.

Illusions, desires, attraction, sex … weaken.

People can’t do what they did physically when they were young.

Parents die but you move on.

Colleagues forget the favors you did.

The race to achieve slows.

But true friends are always there, no matter how long or how many miles away they are. A friend is never more distant than the reach of a need, intervening in your favor, waiting for you with open arms and in some way blessing your life.

When we started this adventure called life, we did not know of the incredible joys or sorrows that were ahead. We did not know how much we would need from each other. Love your parents, take care of your family, but keep a group of good friends. Stay in touch with them. [Tell this to] your friends — even those you seldom see — who help make sense of your life. (End)

Friends, especially old friends, are witnesses to our life. They have helped us soldier though the hard times and been there with us for the celebrations and the fun times. We don’t have to explain much to them because they know most of the details already. They have aged along with us and can laugh at the same incongruities and absurdities that are specific to our generation. We can compare our satisfactions as well as our aches and pains, and share the advice and names of our physicians and our medicines. As we are reduced in stature, we are reduced together so the same relative heights hold and we continue on unperturbed.

Most satisfying is the shared wisdom that has come from living a substantial number of years. We can comfort each other as we laugh about the difficulties and perceived difficulties in our lives, and we never need to feel embarrassed about our thoughts or our hang-ups.

The most painful part comes with the inevitable loss of close friends. They are irreplaceable and their absence leaves a hole in our lives and our hearts. “I’m only going to befriend younger people I meet,” we declare. The same for our doctors and dentists, who have the temerity to retire or die.

So to my dear friends — and yes, those professionals who keep me together — just know how I treasure you.