To my mind there is only one reason to enjoy summer and because I am not a student or a teacher I have no reason to enjoy summer. Summer (as an adult) means heat, humidity, mosquitoes, Japanese Beatles, weeds, and work. Summer makes me glad I have a desk job and thankful for air conditioning. However, at one time I was a student who enjoyed summers . . .
One of my favorite memories as a child is playing under the apple trees whose limbs were touching the ground because of the abundance of fruit on them. Those limbs formed the roof and walls of my playhouse as well as the second story where I could sit and read to my heart’s content. The shade kept me from the hot rays of the sun while the leaves still allowed a breeze to cool me. The picnic table provided a shelf for my dishes as well as a “cave” where my kitten and dolls liked to sleep. Grass clippings formed beds and laying a quilt over them made a perfect spot to think.
Other memories include vacations which always revolved around family. A trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains included a visit with Uncle Howard and Aunt Ruth, Great Uncle George and Aunt Mayme, and a final stop to see Uncle Lee and Aunt Ruth and our cousins. Interspersed were picnics, camping, and sight-seeing. There is a special joy in being a kid that can curl up in the back seat, and leave all the schedules, responsibilities, and driving to someone else. I didn’t care when we got there – I just enjoyed the journey and being with my family.
One summer in a black Rambler with a cargo carrier on top, my Mom, Dad, brother, Gramma and Grampa joined me for a trip to California along Route 66. Dad was a mechanic and he had installed an air conditioning unit to make the trip more comfortable for mom and Grandma. He also installed a new safety feature called seatbelts. I sat on the back middle arm rest (remember how they pulled down out of the back seat?) and sang “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder” until Dad turned the radio on to keep me quiet! For meals we pulled along the side of the road when we saw shade, and we drank ice water from the thermos and ate bologna sandwiches. In the evening we’d pull off into a small town and find a park. The men slept in a tent and the ladies slept in the car. (It was a great car. The front seat folded down so it was one big bed!) We were going to California to visit my Aunt Linda and Uncle Ken.
I don’t remember eating in any restaurants or staying in any hotels. We did visit Knotts Berry Farm in California. My memories of that come more from the home movies than from my memory. I remember sitting next to Granny and falling asleep. I remember Grampa teasing the daylights out of me. I remember it all with a wonderful warm cozy feeling of gratitude.
But those days are gone along with the apple trees and much of Route 66. And I find myself looking forward to autumn – days when jeans and a sweatshirt are a perfect fit, campfires and s’mores feel good inside and out, and it feels good again to sit outside and make new memories.