I have expectations of summer that have been with me all my life, it seems. I notice the older I get though, the more I long for those lazy days of summer that I experienced as a youth.
Today, when I awoke, and I rehashed my schedule for the day in my mind, I could tell this was going to be the type of day that equals my fond memories of childhood. With the business of graduation, getting the garden and yard summer ready, preparing Matt’s summer travel agenda, and my work schedule, there just has not been very much free time. But at least for today, there was not a whole lot on my list of things to do. My summer had finally come.
I woke up to the sound of the lawn mower, Matt was already out getting his work done even before the dogs and I had wakened. I got up, made the coffee, and read a bit while I waited for him to come in from outside. When the sound of the mower stopped, he came in smiling, happy to have a jump on his day. We talked as I checked my email and then started loading some photographs to send via email at a friend’s request. Matthew washed up and started to make waffles for breakfast. He soon called me to come get the strawberries ready so we could have strawberries over our morning waffles. We had a leisurely breakfast talking about our plans for the day.
After breakfast, I went out to hoe my garden and he went out to spray a few weeds in the pasture that just didn’t want to die the first time around. As I was hoeing my garden, as is often the case, memories started flooding my mind from my childhood. When I was a kid, gardening was a big and important part of our summer. My mom and dad planted a huge garden every year, and it was part of the responsibility of my siblings and I, to help keep that garden weeded and hoed. We knew that we would not be going swimming, or horseback riding, or anything else, until that garden was weeded.
But weeding the garden is only part of my summer memories. Weeding my own garden this morning, only propelled me down “Memory Lane” into all kinds of summer activities that I decided I wanted to write down while I still remember.
One of my favorite things, when I was a kid, was to get up early before anyone else was awake, while all was quiet and still; the only sounds I might hear would be the woosh, woosh, woosh of the sprinklers in the nearby fields and the throaty, yet musical warble of a male meadowlark letting me know that all is well. I would sneak out the back door barefoot, just so I could feel the damp dew on my bare feet. I would listen to our African Geese honk a greeting to me upon my arrival at their pen. Peeper would invariably put his head down and run at me like he was going to attack me right through the wire of his pen.
The afternoon, when it was hot, would bring opportunity for me to grab a favorite book and climb up into my brother’s tree fort in the big, old locust tree. It was cool and quiet there and I could read for hours, pretending I was Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden solving yet another mystery that had come across our path. Yeah, “our path”: mine and Trixie’s, and Honey Wheeler’s, too.
After reading for a while, I might walk over the style to see what Grandma and Grandpa were doing for the day. I always knew I would receive a “Timely Word” there. Sometimes I would coax Casey, our Springer Spaniel, into sitting under the pear tree with me, where we could be all alone in the shade, where no one could see us. I would know that for that moment, he loved me better than he loved anyone else and he would be just mine… at least for the moment.
I might give my friend, Shirley, a call to see if she was up for a walk in the woods. We were WWW long before the www –World Wide Web. Shirley and I had formed a "club" called the Wary Wood Walkers, or WWW for short. She was Nancy…something…and I was Naomi Jackson. We were out to seek mysteries of our own. We would bring our younger sisters along with us and almost always desert them in the middle of the woods to see if they could find our secret hiding place or some such nonsense. I hate to think of what my little sis might now say about that.
Some summer mornings would often find me waiting for my friend, Cathy, to call so that we might go for a horseback ride. She would let me ride Sandy, while she would ride Go-Go. Eventually she got another horse whose name I can’t recall. We would jump on that horse and gallop across her pasture on our way to the little pond singing Scarecrow. I don’t recall those lyrics now either, but I do remember the moment. Treasure! One time when we did this, we came across a dead horse by the pond. I will never forget Cathy’s grief at finding this horse. She wasn’t sure to whom it belonged, but she ran to the nearest house for help, while I forlornly waited, not knowing what to do. Cathy will require a post simply telling all about her some day. The memories are many; and yes, they are pure treasure…like walking fence to see how long we could stay up and how far we could go on those straight wooden rails; or sleeping out at night, well away from her house at the base of the mountain, hidden among the trees of the forest. Or, riding our horses up “Stanea Hill” to the pipe-line and enjoying the solitude and beauty we found there. My childhood, certainly must not have been perfect, but it surely seemed like it was as close as one could get to “perfect”.
The evenings would bring a ride over to the baseball diamond to watch my brother’s Little League game. These were not only great games, these were also fun social events, as many of the kids from school and their families would be there as well, to cheer on our own "boys of summer". We would see some of the kids we might not otherwise see until school began again in the fall.
When Daddy was working at home, we could count on him to drive us down to one of the local lakes for an evening swim after supper. We loved the evening swims even more than during the day. There was rarely anyone there at the beach, and the water felt oh so much warmer. When the daytime temperatures had cooled just a bit, the temperature of the lake felt almost like bath water. Dad would watch us swim for a while and then when it was time to go, he would treat us to an ice cream or a root beer from the A and W before heading home.
Summer evenings also brought games of “Kick-the-Can” and “No Ghost Out Tonight” with the other kids on the block…or sometimes with my older sister’s friends who would be spending the night with her. The older girls added an extra dimension to our "play" making song requests to the local radio station, which we had turned up to hear as we played our games well past dusk and into the night. "Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison would be one of the songs most requested at the time.
Our favorite summer nights would consist of Mom’s spaghetti for dinner and Henry Aldrich on TV before bed. Sleeping out under the stars and watching for shooting stars would be at the top of our list…maybe only to be topped by waking the next morning in the cool morning air, with the sun beginning to rise and realizing it was going to be yet another hot lazy day of summer with not a whole lot on my list of things to do.