Tuesday, June 21, 2011

First Day of Summer

Every year of my life that I owned a calendar, this day was marked with a star before anything else including birthdays and holidays and later, anniversaries and deaths. I have always lived in a humid, muggy, hot state in the season of summer, so don't get me wrong; I love the onset of summer because it means really cold days are behind me. Hot summers which follow leave me prostrate on the couch under the fan pushing air condition breezes over me.

I remember that as a child hot summers didn't phase me, deter me, deplete me, you get the idea. I skated on the cement sidewalks all the day long more days than not. On the "not" days I roamed the fields beyond my house with my brother and his friends. Sometimes we navigated stinking hot and buggy cornfields and the boys often set me up to get lost in there, chortling when I pleaded for help.

Summer meant sippping homemade root beer on the neighbor's porch. Mrs. Buckwalter served us ice cold bottles of the stuff, and with the yeast content we blew up like little balloons, propelling ourselves around with our own gas. We laughed like crazy kids.

Evenngs on the porch found us camped in front of whirling silver blades on a black base churning the air enough to cool it. Not much distance from it, we were again very warm, so the gadget kept us tethered. Such an evening of dalliance was followed by tepid to cool baths before bedtime when we were sufficiently cooled down before night set in. We slept like the babies we were.

On hot afternoons we donned our bathing suits to stand beneath the lawn sprinkler, hooting and hollering as we jumped through the heavy spray, hair sopping and suits dripping water down our legs. We spent hours in that fountain together, making up games and sliding across the soaked grass on bare feet until we fell down laughing. When we wore ourselves out, Mom appeared with large slices of ice cold watermelon and we buried our little faces deep in the pink meat, spitting seeds as we approached the rind. And then it was back to the drenching to clean off.

As I sit here cooling my mouth with a banana icicle, I recall peach ice cream from the crank ice cream maker to be found under my fanny as I sat holding it down while Dad cranked. I'd get up periodically as he added salt. The banana stick is nothing compared to that incredible treat.

Things are simpler for us now, but then, life itself was simpler. Long ago Mom stopped cranking her clothes through the wringer, and a full line of clothing out to dry is a rare sight today. It's a rare attic popping with exploding root beer bottles so warm they pop their corks. You can still buy a crank ice cream maker, but I truly know of no one who owns one. Lots and lots of homes are air conditioned, though how long we'll be able to afford this kind of cooling is questionable. I don't do sponge baths in front of a fan anymore.

If you're reading at my knee, you more than likely have family members who have the same summer history. Go sit on their porch and ask them to tell you what that was like for them. Have lemonade if not root beer. Turn on a fan. Feel your way back to a time you might not ever have experienced for yourself. Trust me. It's cool!

1 comment:

  1. You were so right -- much happier and more fun! Very nice memoir piece. Happy first day of summer!