When I was a kid, summer meant reading on a blanket of moss under the water oak tree, laying on the ground naming the shapes of clouds, and swimming at Woods Lake. I grew up in the country. Few kids around me and I had to find ways to entertain myself.
My grandmother was busy canning and freezing the vegetables my grandfather grew. She complained canning was heating up the entire house, a hint for him to cut back on the garden, which only expanded each summer. So, he built an addition of a canning kitchen, complete with a wood stove. Now, there’s some real heat! I guess he was tired of hearing how she was heating up the whole house with her canning. Actually, she was hinting for him to cut back on the garden. When the bounty was canned and preserved for the winter, she would pick up her latest romance book and settled into a chair under the trees. From her came my love of reading.
During the day, I found a way to stay out of the line of fire by stepping out doors to my bed of moss, book in hand. They forgot I was there if I wasn’t underfoot. God forbid I ever told an adult I was bored. They would find something for me to do and you can bet it wouldn’t have been anything I wanted to spend my summer doing.
Late in the day, the adults would sit outside where it was cooler because the older folks believed air conditioning was unhealthy. We’d eat watermelon and enjoy the quiet. Thus, the activity of naming clouds. Since moving back to the South and country life, I see the clouds again. I guess I’m reverting back to childhood, not a bad idea.
When the heat became too oppressive, I would beg my mother to take me to the local swimming pool, and I use that term only because that’s what we called it. It was a lake that had been converted into the local hangout with lifeguards, sand, concessions, and the slide. Actually, there were two slides, but it was the big slide that tormented me in the summers. I’m a coward by nature and fear heights. But each summer I would work to overcome my fear and climb the stairs to the big slide for the adrenal rush.
I celebrated the lazy days of summer, which most kids today don’t get the opportunity to explore. My grandkids are shuttled from activity to activity, the younger ones in day camps because both parents work, and the older ones on their electronics—a topic for another day—facetiming their friends or playing on their Xbox. If I had one wish for them it would be to look up and watch the clouds.
We’re back home after spending time with family and I’m tired. So, I’m going to watch my birds who visit my yard, sit back in my recliner and read—laying down on a mossy ground at my age might be my final resting place. I have work to do, but it’s the lazy days of summer, so I’m going to take advantage of all I learned as a kid. Living in the South is my idea of paradise. What’s yours?