Today is officially the first day of summer.
The summer days of my childhood seemed to stretch endlessly before me ... a magical time that my brothers and my best friend Sharron and I filled with PLAYING ... almost literally, from daylight to after dark. And we really PLAYED ... OUTSIDE ... in primitively-built tree houses and "forts" and in "secret clubhouses" built in ditches and shared with spiders and bees and no-telling-what-kind of critters and creatures we didn't know were there. Those Louisiana summers were hot and humid, unbearably so at times, but we didn't care. It was summertime!
About mid-morning, Mama would call us to the back door for a snack and Kool Aid, and then back we'd go ... to our hideouts and the world of Roy and Dale and Trigger and Bullet ... fighting the bad guys and always winning. At noon we would go in and get cleaned up (sometimes that required baths) and eat lunch, then rest for a while. We didn't have to take a nap, but we had to go to our rooms and rest. It seems like our "rest time" mostly consisted of asking Mama over and over again if it was time to get up yet. We couldn't wait to get back outside to play.
Our afternoons were usually spent playing in the hose or in a little plastic pool, or "performing" acrobatic tricks on our swing set, which was literally just that ... three swings! No fancy molded plastic playhouse with attached swings and teeter-totter, "monkey bars," or slides ... but we did have a wonderful seesaw that Daddy built for us, and we spent many a happy hour on that old seesaw, sometimes all four of us at one time, balancing our weight so we could go up and down without stranding two of us in the air with dangling legs.
We also built "villages" in the dirt, or in our sandbox. We had little rubber Woolworth cars that made wonderful roads and we'd add grass and flowers for trees ... and drew our "houses" in the dirt, our "village" limited only by our imaginations. I can't imagine how many "mudpies" and "cakes" and sandcastles were made in that old sandbox, too.
Sometimes we were allowed to play outside after supper, and that's when we played hide-and-seek, all over the neighborhood, until it was too dark to see, or until the mosquitoes came out ... whichever came first.
On rainy days, we played inside ... playing games or making countless pot holders on those little metal looms. We had big plans to sell them to the neighbors, but, of course, that didn't work out because the neighbors' children were busily making their own pot holders to sell to OUR mama.
Every couple of weeks Mama would take us to the library and we got to check out books. The library was in a wonderful old house near downtown, and, for me, it was a magical place filled with to-the-ceiling bookshelves and little child-size chairs and tables and the smell of old books. I seem to remember the windows being open to let the morning breezes in, and the library's resident cat wandering amongst the bookshelves and sunning himself on the worn wooden floors. The books had library cards tucked in the front cover and we had to print our names on the card and the librarian would stamp the date when the book was due to turn in. I wonder if libraries still do that these days ... I would like to think so.
Another sweet memory from my childhood summers is shelling peas ... BUSHELS of peas that my grandfather brought us straight from his garden in the country. I remember getting together with aunts and uncles and my grandparents and everyone sitting in a circle with the bushels of peas in the center ... their purple-stained hands rapidly shelling as they visited and probably reminisced about their childhood summers. Shelling peas was a social occasion which sometimes turned into a potluck dinner, complete with homegrown tomatoes as big as saucers, purple hull PEAS, corn on the cob fresh from the garden, and the best summer treat of all -- WATERMELON!
Those were such simple, happy days ... when toys didn't need batteries to work ... and you held real books in your lap to read them instead of holding a Kindle, or sitting in a trance in front of a computer screen. We didn't wake up in the mornings and tell our mamas that we were "bored," or ask what we could do (she'd have probably handed us a basket of peas to shell!) ... we just went outside and PLAYED.
We thought summertime and its magic would last forever ... and I guess it will, in our memories, anyway.
Friday, June 21, 2013
Today is officially the first day of summer.