Tuesday, June 05, 2007

School's Out For Summer!

Those words do not hold as much glee for this writer-mom as they did when I was a kid, but it did send me back to my childhood when I heard my sons crow them this week.

Summer for this California girl was pretty darn perfect. I grew up in northern California, so it wasn’t so beach-centric as my SoCal life is now. (In northern California the water is very cold, instead of just chilly like it is here in the summer.) But we belonged to a swim & tennis club and went to the pool daily. My hair had that greenish tinge every summer I can remember, even when I was in high school, because I taught swim lessons.

It was also a time for bicycle rides to the library. I had a big basket and my best friend and I would head off a couple of times a week for our fixes. Only books from the library have that wonderful, buttery quality to the pages. The soft edges were as comforting to me as the pillows on my bed where I spent hours and hours reading. When I was older, my best friend and I started walking “downtown” to the Woolworth’s where I spent my babysitting money on Harlequin romances and red licorice. To this day, I taste red licorice and think of summer and love.

When I was in high school, all the girls in town played in the summer softball league. All the girls, including girls like me who were no way considered jocks. But it was so much fun. The whole town turned out (and still does, according to my mom) on summer Sunday nights to watch the girls play. I started out in right field as a freshman, but I didn’t run like a girl, so I was okay in the hitting department. Then I got contact lenses and I finished my “career” playing a pretty mean third base. Gee, being able to see the ball helped.

Finally, when I think of summer I think of the Fourth of July. The next town over has a big parade and my uncle would park his truck along the route the night before. We’d then sit in comfort while the marching bands and the Shriner clowns went by. That night, we’d barbecue and eat watermelon and my dad and my uncle would supervise the lighting of the fireworks. The night would end, of course, with sparklers for all. I can still see my name in sizzling letters against the dark night.

How about you? Any immediate summer memories come to mind?


Diane in Syracuse said...

I spent a LOT of time in libraries, too. I've always read a lot, but the pace would go crazy in the summer - 3-5 books a DAY (I had no bookstores in walking distance, and if I had, I would never have had anything to wear - my sister and I had to manage our own clothing allowances from about 5th or 6th grade, and I was terrible at it).

Not so much the beach - I lived in Silicon Valley, and heading to Santa Cruz meant hours on Hwy 17, with all the overheated cars pulled over to the side. You had to get up pretty early in the morning to make the drive in an hour or less. Just lying on the grass in the shade, or running through the sprinklers....

Debra Dixon said...

My family had a cabin on a river in Arkansas and I spent so many summers there. Wrecking motorbikes. Skiing behind flat-bottom fishing boats. We also went to another lake in which we sailed, canoed, and slapped the water skis on behind the big boats.

My parents would also ship us off to Girl Scout camp.

And people wonder why I like the indoors now that I can control my life. (g)

Susan Kay Law said...

Hmm. I think all my good old memories are overwhelmed by the "oh, my, how am I going to entertain this child every day?" thing.

Actually, we were trippers. Load up the car, drive from one end of the country to the other for weeks on end. It was hot. I read a lot (thank goodness I can read in the car.)

I've seen far more of this country than almost anyone I know, though. We fly, so my kids see the cities we end up in, but not the stuff on the way. It's efficient, but doesn't allow for much serendipity.


Kathleen Eagle said...

Last night I had to harumph at my boy Colbert when he made a joke about Chicago being "one of Hillary Clinton's 5 hometowns." What's wrong with that? I totally get coming from lots of places. My summer memories are singularly attached to the different places I consider myself to be from.

Colonial Beach, VA -- birthplace (well, Fredericksburg), parents'home, memories of Gamma's and Grandmother's, learning to ski in the Potomac, pronto pups and sno cones on the boardwalk, falling in love for the first time with a neighbor's horse.

South Hadley, MA -- fast forward to adolescence -- nothing within walking distance so my choices were limited to where the parents would take me, which was the Base pool, the baseball fields where my brother played sandlot baseball (with boys where were not my brother and therefore interesting) where big lights lit up summer nights and you got to hook up with your girlfriends from school and look for excuses to parade around rather than sit on those hard bleachers.

North and South Dakota -- first summer as a volunteer on the reservation changed my life -- memories of rodeos and pow wows and the heartbeat rhythm of Indian drums and the smell of frybread and that huge Dakota sky filled with fireworks and parading around rather than sitting on those hard bleachers....and being able to ride a horse anytime I wanted for the first time in my life.

Oh, those summer nights...

Christie Ridgway said...

I love everyone's memories! I hope I've giving my kids as magical a season as I remember. We don't make them do much in the way of camps (they did camp at the San Diego Zoo a few summers, which was way cool, and Son 2 is doing some volleyball camps at the beach this summer) and the like. Son 2's best friend lives across the street and we have a pool, treehouse, pool table, pingpong table, foosball (yes, I live with all guys) so we call our house Camp TaylorandAlex.

Kaitlin said...

In the neighborhood I grew up in, I was basically the only girl, so I was pretty much a tomboy. I can remember HOURS playing baseball in the church parking lot down the street. We wouldn't go in until the parents started calling for us. Anytime I see people playing in parks & such, it makes me very nostalgic. :)

MaryF said...

I love your description of library books! Our school library would open one morning a week in summer, and I was there every week.

I'd spend a lot of time at my grandparents', and we'd go swimming and walking and horseback riding. I still love summer!

Helen Brenna said...

Anyone remember the little county fairs? Oh, man, the first time I got to ride in a double ferris wheel - what fun!

Going to the lake, picking wild rasberries and getting so many mosquitoe bites I'd scratch my skin raw. Sunburns and bbqs and trying to catch fireflies at night.

Wonderful memories. Thanks, Christie.