Note: every month I do a newsletter for my senior citizens. They like "remember when" stories, so here's the latest one.
Tis the season of fresh veggies, vacations and visits with people you like ...and maybe that relative you can’t avoid. Winter coats give way to shorts, clothing gets colorful and boots are replaced by flip flops or bare feet. Most folks look forward to summer. Not me. Why? Seems much of my attitude about summer is rooted in childhood. All the best of summer lives in those memories...where it’s not so hot and humid.
I remember playing outside from daylight to dawn. We ran through sprinklers. Rode bikes. Drank out of the hose. Suntan lotion was used once a year on beach vacations...probably because it was a sand magnet. Chirping crickets signaled day was done and streetlights were a reminder you’d lost track of time and better get home before your parents yelled out the backdoor and the whole neighborhood knew you were late. It got hot, but our “whole house” fan kept us cool. We didn’t have home A/C until I was eight. When Granddaddy had air conditioning installed in his CAR it should’ve been declared a national holiday! There were bites from pesky mosquitos and chiggers (redbugs), but the promise of a small glass bottle of icy cold Coca-Cola with Grandma’s boiled peanuts or, better yet, her homemade ice cream with fresh peaches, evened the score. Besides, everyone’s Dad was deadly accurate with the ol’ flyswatter. Well except my next door neighbor’s dad, the CPA. Most flyswatters were offered as a bonus for purchases like charcoal for the grill and served as possibly the most useful cheap advertising of my youth….if you don’t count Funeral Home hand fans for church.
Adult me doesn’t embrace summer because honestly, I hate the heat. Okay, so I’m not 10 anymore and we’re all addicted to our A/C. But a recent scientific study illustrated of the 10 hottest years recorded in the last 100, eight of them have been in the last ten years. Nowadays, people fear being in the sun without 4 layers of SP3000 lotion on their skin and a dermatologist on speed dial. Hard to hug that long lost aunt when everyone’s so slippery.
Part of my “anti-seasonal” feeling is due to the fun being regulated out of summer. If today’s water bottle swilling kid even thought about drinking out of a hose, DSS would get a call about child abuse. Of course, first they’d have to get the kid away from their computer game and OUT of the house. Parents of my childhood had a harder time getting us back IN the house. I’m convinced the reason we have to fear bug bites and West Nile Virus, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease is because kids quit going outside and their immune systems shriveled up. Maybe the stench of electric bug zappers has scarred these pampered parental pets. Our gene pool is drying up because public pools are touted as “Germ Soup”. As for big kids, between homemade ice cream’s cholesterol count and the sodium associated with boiled peanuts, eating either probably puts you on a Medical Alert hit list. Cooking over charcoal’s chemical fumes would’ve gotten you almost arrested a few years ago. But like the return of backyard gardens, considered “harvesting organic produce”, charcoal is cool again.
There was one casualty of my childhood summer: going barefoot. It lost all appeal when I witnessed barefoot Mom step on a bee in the clover under the clothesline. A parent yelling and/or crying while telling you he/she is okay, means something is terribly wrong. From then on I wore my red PF Flyers and the only time I was barefoot was in the bathtub or while sleeping.
So how do I “tolerate” summer? Fireflies make me smile. When I was about four, my Granddaddy in North Carolina helped us catch lightning bugs in a jar. We’d ooh and aah over our living flashlights, then let them go. So excuse me while I go grab a Coke, sit on the front steps and watch the fireflies dance at dusk. Since there’s no clover near the steps, I might even kick off my shoes