Monday, July 28, 2014

Another summer day...

...has come and gone away...

I've really enjoyed the month of July. We've spent most of the month at home, lingering over our weekend morning coffee, watching the hummingbirds who dine at our feeder and the family of deer who play on our back hillside, savoring the beauty of our big blooming hostas and hydrangeas, sharing a casual BBQ with the neighbors, sitting around the firepit and relishing weather that permits a fire in the middle of summer, indulging in good books or an afternoon nap....

This got me to thinking about what it was I loved about summers as a child.  Here's a few-

Going to the neighborhood swim club with my sister. Sometimes my mom would drive us, but oftentimes we'd ride our bicycles the two miles there and the two miles back. Kids were supposed to leave the lounge chairs for the adults, so we'd spread our beach towels out on the grassy hillside and spend hours in the pool. When the whistle sadly blew indicating adult swim we'd run freezing to our towels and lay in the warm sun to dry off. We'd always bring money for the snack bar and figuring out what to buy was a big decision. One of our favorite treats was a frozen Milky Way bar, but other times we'd get french fries or some kind of candy.

Making homemade ice cream in the garage. I can picture so clearly my dad setting up the freezer. He would cover the floor underneath with newspaper, then add ice and salt and begin churning. My brother always had to help with the churning, and when it would begin to get thick my sister and I were recruited to sit on top of the freezer to keep it from 'walking'. I loved getting that first look into the container. My dad would lift the lid and slowly pull the paddle from inside. He'd let us have a swipe of the just churned ice cream from the paddle, and we'd look forward to dessert all through dinner.

The hours between dinner and dark. The air wouldn't be quite so hot, and we would play outside until my mom called us in. Sometimes we'd meet up with a bunch of the neighborhood kids for giant games of hide and seek or kick the can or ghost in the graveyard. We'd divide up into teams and each team would have some big and some little. When we played kick the can I remember each team would come up with code words to shout out and let someone else on your team know when it was safe to run in for the kick. Straaaaaaawberry meant stay in your hiding place.

Going barefoot. If we weren't playing with the neighbors we might ask my mom for an old mayonnaise jar so we could catch lightning bugs. She'd poke holes in the lid with the ice pick and we'd run around the backyard trying to capture one.  I loved running barefoot in the grass.  I still like going barefoot. Our feet would get filthy though, and even if we didn't have a full fledged bath, my mom would insist we put our feet in the tub before bed.

The Good Humor Truck. Oh how we'd beg. If it was too close to suppertime we couldn't get ice cream,  but sometimes he'd come while we were having dinner and I remember that feeling of wanting to hurry outside so we wouldn't miss him. There was nothing sadder to a ten year old than missing the ice cream truck.

The smell of charcoal burning. That was the scent of summer back in 1960-something. Everyone had a charcoal grill and there was something so comforting about the idea of families all throughout the neighborhood cooking dinner on their backyard grills. I feel like kids miss that today. In the year 20-something a neighborhood full of charcoal grills is sort of rare.

In the July summers of my childhood there was great value placed on doing nothing. No lists, no 'should bes', no guilt. Instead there were blank time blocks and empty space.

Space where I could lay on the grass and watch the clouds. Space to laugh with my sister. Space to not worry. Space to daydream, imagine, pretend and wonder.

Space to sit on the neighbor's glider and let the juice of a ruby red plum run down my chin. Space for a moment,  to not have a care in the world.


  1. I love your reminiscences of summer... Those wonderful summer moments are precious and fleeting as adults. You post makes me long for those childhood summer days when life was carefree!

  2. I rode my bike all over my little town, including to the swim club. Such freedom. I can still feel the air at twilight as I rode home. I don't think kids have that same feeling of freedom these days.

  3. I am several years older than you but many of your memories are just the same as mine. I had completely forgotten about catching lightening bugs in mayo jars. Oh, me, what fun! And, the ice cream truck, swimming for as long as I could, those were the days before "tech gadgets" for sure.

    Wishing you a happy week!

  4. I loved reading about all of this. Soo much like many of my own summer days (minus the lightening bugs...none of those in California) and it brought me right back to those days. The hours and hours we spent in the community pool, the home made ice cream, the hundreds of game of hide and seek, bike rides and roller skating, just the LONG days with nothing we had to do or nowhere we had to be. Kids today really do miss a lot of this. Everything can be soo structured anymore. There is so much to be said for like you said laying on the grass and watching the clouds, dreaming and imagining the time away. Loved this walk down memory lane! Enjoy your day!

  5. That's how I remember it too. We rode our bikes all over the place. Thanks for taking us back!

  6. With the one exception of the ice cream truck, we did the same things in the summer, Joyce. My favorite snack at the swimming pool was the frozen milky way (on a stick). The teenagers played Ricky Nelson's Traveling Man over and over on the juke box. Whenever I hear that song, I can almost taste the candy bar and smell chlorine! Kids today really do miss out on so much!! Loved this post!

  7. What a great memory of your days at the pool and the homemade ice cream too. I've never had any. I actually entered a contest today to win one! I guess I should put it on my Christmas list. We would play kick the can and flashlight tag....parents didn't worry about us being out at night! Thanks for posting this....brings back a lot of memories for me.

  8. Oh, those quiet, carefree days of summer, as a child! I enjoyed walking down 'memory lane' with you :)

  9. We used mayonnaise jars, too! And my mom poked holes with an ice pick, too! Do people even have ice picks any more? Did we ALL use them to collect lightning bugs? And why aren't they called lightning bugs any more ... fireflies nowadays. Wow, who knew that one simple memory would bring to mind so many questions? ;-)