Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cindy's thoughts on Summertime

It’s barely summer and already we’re baking here in the Midwest. But just the thought of (and I’m singing here) “Summertime, summertime, sum sum summertime, summerti iii immmme” conjures all sorts of wonderful childhood memories.

Remember hide and seek after dark? Chasing fireflies and catching them in a bottle? Or dismantling the poor bug and wearing the light as a ring on your finger? What about running through sprinklers and cherry popsicle juice running down your arm?

I think of family picnics and 4th of July and the chlorine scent of the swimming pool. Coppertone tans and baking in the sun. Buck night at the drive in movie (man am I dating myself), and contracting to de-tassle corn or hoe corn out of the beans to earn money for school clothes.

Ah yes. Breath deep. Smell the nostalgia in the air. And a little wistful longing. I feel badly that our world has changed so much that our kids and grandkids miss some of these very basic pleasures. But, we try to make new memories in a world that’s not as safe as it once was.

We have a cabin in northern Minnesota and every year our kids make sure that they and their kids make it up for at least a week. It’s a tradition. And let me tell you, the lake comes alive with the sound of their laughter as they play in the sand or squeal over catching a fish, or stare with wide eyes when they spot a bear lumbering across the road. New memories. Wonderful memories.

What are some of your favorite childhood summertime memories? What memories are you trying to make for your kids? What summertime traditions do you treasure?


Betina Krahn said...

Cindy, you sparked some lovely summer memories for me with this post. The smell of an old-fashioned quilt on the sun-warmed grass, tiptoing barefoot through patches of clover to avoid bee stings, catching lightning bugs at dusk, those scary June bugs.

Strawberries always said "summer coming" to me. . . but those are available year around most places.

The rush to get ready for Bible Camp up in the mountains. . . with the clear running streams and hikes and vespers by the bonfire.

I'm so far removed from the summer fun of my youth. . . but I really like cool drink in a lawn chair, watching the sun go down. . . wearing Deet, of course. And Fireworks. I do love me some fireworks.

Cindy Gerard said...

Betina - Ah yes - the smell of Deet and Sulfur is forever etched in my mind. :o)
And bible school - see you're reminding me of things. Was there anything better than kool-aide and sugar cookies in the cool basement of the church on a hot summer day?

Michele Hauf said...

I remember the quarter my mom would give me and then send me off to the 'little store'. Man, could a quarter go a long way for penny candies!

The aluminum-sided pool set up in the back yard (if we didn't hurry, Mom would beat us and lay out on her blow-up plastic float to bake in the sun). Which reminds of the Johnson baby oil she'd slather all over her skin to ensure a crisp baking.

Crab apples stolen from a neighbor's tree.

Real alleys behind houses, so we could meet our neighbors and plot the days adventures.

Uff-da Tacos, which was a stand set up in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot. The tacos were a round, puffy piece of flat bread, heaped with taco fixings. Num.

And I recall one particular summer I had to march in the town parade with my cousin--we dressed as hillbillies, and toted our pet skunk behind us in a cage. (Don't ask.)

Cindy Gerard said...

Oh come on, Michelle. I HAVE to ask about the pet skunk. I mean ... really...

Keri Ford said...

In the summer my step-sister would come up for a visit and my cousin would come over a lot. My parents still had horses at the time and I’d wake the three of us up at literally DAWN. We’d ride all day, come home, pack lunch, and go off somewhere in the woods for a picnic. We’d ride until sundown—when we were required to come back home. Rainy days just killed us. If we weren’t doing that, then there was a large pond and our grandpa built a swimming pier with a diving board. My parents have turned into river rats, so that’s where we spend our weekends now.

Michele, Johnson Baby Oil?? Really??? It doesn’t fry you like a well…a french fry in a deep fryer?

Cindy Gerard said...

Sounds, great Keri.
And I can answer on the baby oil. We used to mix it with iodine and slather it on like butter. Yup. Got an amazing tan - if you didn't mind the fact that the iodine often rubbed of on your clothes :o)

Kathleen Eagle said...

I am such a sucker for nostalgia, and summertime is nostalgia time. Remember how much longer summer used to be, especially when you were about 13? Too young to go anywhere without getting a ride, too old to be content to play with the neighborhood kids.

But before adolescence--the season of discontent--life was simple and summer was easy breezy fun. All your important people were close by. You could make your own fun with a pile of dirt and a handful of rocks. I'm remembering toad houses. First summer in MA. Our backyard was acres and acres of woods. Nowadays parents wouldn't think of letting a kid wander unattended, but those woods were better than Disneyland. The smell of dark, damp, fecund soil, last year's decomposing laves, cool green close shelter, skunk cabbage and the discovery of a single lady slipper hiding in a tree root crotch. Good place for a toad town. We'd build thatched-roof earthen houses with little rock walls to mark the yards, and then we'd go searching for toads to inhabit them. This was a girls' project. The boys were around somewhere, playing "guns" (aka, cowboys or war) and plotting mischief. Once they tried to raid our toad town, but we fended them off with shrieks. It's a well-known fact that boys' ears cannot long withstand a high-pitched chorus of girl shriek.

The following year we would occasionally include ourselves in the war games by persuading the boys of the value of nurses. (Were we not liberated? I don't know--the boys were looking and smelling a little better by then, and we determined when, what and how we would play. You decide.)

But I digress. Woods. Dirt. Tiny structures and critters. Ah, the livin' was easy.

Michele Hauf said...

Keri, oh yeah, the baby oil. I think my Mom owned stock in that company. She'd go through those bottles probably once a week. And she was Very Brown. I tried it once, but sunbathing isn't for me. It was a profession for my mom. That was well before the dangers of skin cancer were touted.

And the skunk? Well, we had a pet skunk one summer when I was about seven or eight. Don't ask me why; I have no idea. I do know you can get them 'de-scented'. And ours was. My mom must of had a thing for Pepe le Pew? Anyway, I still have the parade picture. The sign on the skunk's cage said something like 'We got us a little stinker.'.

Debra Dixon said...

"Kick the Can" a hide-and-seek type game that keep us occupied for hours in the neighborhood. But after dark.

We did the family cabin thing. Still have the land but I haven't been up there in 20 years. A monster flood one year pretty much totaled it. So after we pulled down the structure, it's just wetlands conservation property. (g) But I remember when the family went every summer when I was a teen. Have you ever tried to ski/surf behind a 14 fishing boat on an old door? That was hours of laughing so hard my sides hurt.

Cindy Gerard said...

I'm loving these memories everyone. Each note is prompting more of mine. Up at our cabin we have a wonderful neighbor (and by neighbor I mean up the road, down the path through the woods) who has made a Gnome house in the hollowed out root of the tree. Our grandkids (and well, yeah, me) are fascinated by it. He's made a tiny, tiny camp fire outside the door along with a picnic table and chairs, tea service, a sail boat and a fishing boat - you name it, the Gnome's have it. sometimes their welcome mat is out but sometimes one of the boats might be gone which means they are off fishing. Our little ones leave notes for the gnomes and when they come back the next day, there's a response written on a piece of birch bark. I have a feeling the little ones will have many memories of the gnome house.

Anonymous said...

Swinging in a hammock.

Eating a tomato - like an apple - fresh and warm from the garden.

Tying string onto the leg of a Junebug and flying it around.

Playing in the rain then making mudpies.


Canoe trips down the river.

Sleeping on a screened porch.

LOVE LOVE LOVE the summer, and the stroll down memorylane.

Thanks Cindy!

Marcia in OK

Cindy Gerard said...

Great memories, Marcia ... Yum, yum on the warm, ripe tomato.

Christie Ridgway said...

What I think my kids will remember...

In California, kids generally don't go to "away" camps, but parents send their kids to specialty day camps, like computer camp, soccer camp, etc. For example, my kids went to Zoo Camp at the San Diego Zoo for several years. Very cool.

However, more fun that that, I think, is when I stopped signing them up for things and let them just play here with the neighborhood boys. My younger son's best friend lives across the street and we call it Camp TaylorandAlex. They swim, ride skateboards, bikes, volleyball, hang out in the treehouse, play with video games...and that all's in just the morning hours.

It's lazy, don't-have-to-do anything days, and I think they'll always remember them.

Cindy Gerard said...

I think you're right, Christie :o)

Helen Brenna said...

Picking wild raspberries and getting so many mosquito bites that they itch for days.


Camping. Old fashioned fish fries! YUM!

Playing card with my grandparents at the lake!

An ice cold beer after a hot softball game.

Carnivals and county fairs and carnies that make you run home screaming for your mama!! Hey, hey!

Fun run down memory lane, Cindy!

Cindy Gerard said...

Lovely, Helen.
Even the part about the carnies :o)
It was SOO exciting the first time a boy won a stuffed animal for me. Of course it was ugly as sin and cost him about $10 bucks more that it was worth but I still swoon thinking about him shooting those little plastic ducks :o)
I miss Mayberry ....