Thursday, June 09, 2005

Summer Memories

The wonderful writer at http://fragmentsfromfloyd.com asked for summer memories from when you were a child. I love recalling my favorite summer memories; evoking warm and wonderful feelings of times spent in nature, solitary and carefree.
As a youngster, summers were spent riding my bike, playing tag, hide-and-seek, and all the other games that kids play. Catching lightning bugs was a favorite pasttime; I loved going out at night after dinner and feeling the warm breezes on my skin, while running through the yards with a mason jar looking for bugs. Since there was no TV yet, we spent a lot of time in a porch swing, talking about the day, remembering the past, and discussing family issues. It was in that swing, at age 6 I learned that I was adopted , "chosen" as they called it. It was where I heard that my favorite uncle was going into the Navy and from that swing, we heard the neighbors fights, other mother's admonitions to wayward children and the sounds of piano practice.
At age eight, we moved, and summers were spent mostly in the woods around our new home, near a recreation site for the families of Union Carbide employees. We were the last house on the street, surrounded by woods and animals and wildflowers. I loved nothing better than going into those woods day after day, seeking new critters, bugs, flowers, seed pods, creeks and rocks to look under. My mom was so paranoid about most things, that I still cannot fathom why she was so agreeable to seeing me (at ages 8-11) go off into the woods every day. I was warned to run home if I smelled watermelon; it is supposed to be the predominate smell when there is a copperhead snake nearby. I saw many a copperhead while growing up, but none on my jaunts into the woods. The smells of deep woods; leaf mold, clear water creeks and wildflowers haunts me even now. I can still conjure it at will. I found many crayfish, fishing worms, crickets, tadpoles, frogs and the like - and they all made it home with me at one time or another. I also picked up a few ticks along the way, but they were removed with no ill effects when I got home. One year a group of teenagers decided to dam up the small creek nearby, to create a swimming hole. I helped them locate and carry rocks for the dam, and they barely tolerated my presence, except for the help I was so willing to give. Eventually they created a swimming hole of about 4 feet deep, enough to float in, if not really swim. It was cool, clear running water and good for the soul. I spent many an hour there, surrounded by tall trees and dappled shade. I was once in a seminar, in which the leader asked us to get still and "go back to your favorite quiet place". I knew immediately where I would go and with the snap of a finger - I was back in those woods, with only the trees and breeze for company.

In my area, we had a huge swimming pool complex that had been built into the side of an old rock quarry. Virtually everyone went there on weekends, as it was one of the few public pools around in those days. They had the big main pool, baby pools, a games area and a dance floor, and they always played the current popular songs for our "dancing pleasure". And dance we did; as the sun burned brightly and tanning or swimming became boring, we piled onto the dance floor like sardines in a can. It was heaven. If your current boyfriend was not in attendance that weekend, there were always scores of others waiting in the wings. And don't get me started about life guards; they of the bronzed bodies and rippling biceps. It was every 15 year old's dream, even if the guards were far too old for us.

During the week, my girlfriend and I would walk about a mile every day to the local dairy store to have a Coke and an order of fries. We told our mothers that the reason for this daily foray was our friendship, but we were not completely truthful. The route we walked was guaranteed to take us by the homes of some boys whose attention we coveted, and some days we were rewarded with a wave and a hello or maybe conversation, if we were very lucky. I don't know if they ever realized our motives, but we were so obvious I don't know how they couldn't have.

Summers in later years were not as idyllic, since I had to work and save money for college. Those were good experiences too, of course, but the best summers were spent in nature, sitting on a rock or turning it over to see what was underneath.

31 comments:

fred said...

You sound like an outdoors-oriented person from way back!

rugdesigner said...

What wonderful memories! They brought back several of my own!

brendalove@gmail.com said...

I live on a dirt road and in the summer when it gets dry the whole place turned into a dust bowl. This meant that the hose pipe was usually turned on 24/7 so I have lots of memories of spraying dust off of things and living in my bathing suit all the time.

vicki said...

This quarry of your childhood sounds like paradise. Loved this post, Judy. Thanks.

Marti said...

great memories...i was raised on a farm and loved the outdoors. my sisters and i would start out to the woods early in the morning and would come home when we heard dad's whistle (usually late in the evening). i wouldn't trade the all hard work or adventures we experienced as a kid.

Isabella said...

Beautiful.

K Jones said...

I wonder what kids do today. I wonder if their memories are just as wonderful and pleasant. Sometimes I wish it was still so simple. Wonderful post. See you at Michele's.

Melody said...

What memories! You worded that post well. Thanks for popping by my site, today and last week too!
Cheers.

-E said...

Aren't memories from days past fun to retell, even if just in your head?

Michele sent me.

christine said...

What a lovely post and just made my Friday. Sounds like you had some wonderful summer days.

I was born in New York and grew up in Long Island and we used to camp on the beach near Montauk Point. Ah, those were the days.

I am hoping the other shoe doesn't drop for you! =)

Angie said...

What a great memory. I could almost smell the woods and water. The innocence of childhood is something I try hard to preserve for my girls. My oldest is 18 and should be working this summer but in the years after I first divorced it was hard trying to provide and support and she worked so hard to help me I feel like she deserves this one last summer free from everything just to be a girl. There is plenty of time to be a grown up. It is not a luxury everyone gets but this is one I really want her to have.

-xtessa- said...

hi! michele sent me!

you have wonderful memories! those were the summers i wished i had...

Mary Carolyn said...

Hey wonderful friend: I am the girlfriend who took the walks with you to the local dairy for those wonderful vanilla cokes and french fries and the side trips hoping to catch a glimpse of the current "love of our life". Oh what wonderful memories we share. Remember walking the railroad tracks with Susie and singing "Side By Side" and then taking the bus back home as the walk had been so long. We are so very fortunate to have these memories to share and I am so fortunate to have a wonderful friend like you. I will spend the rest of today with a smile on my face remembering those wonderful days and our other friends who shared those times with us.

metten said...

Thank you kenju. You are quite gifted. I have similar childhood memories of hiking, orienteering and mountain climbing. No...wait...that wasn't me. I think I'm thinking of a Walton's episode. I was the fat kid playing Tyson's Punch Out on Nintendo. Thanks anyway.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

How about that Mary Carolyn coming out of the woodwork? How nice!

You did mighty fine, Judy. Not too late to walk in the woods again. Crawdads might remember you.

Melissa said...

You always find the coolest stuff to post!

metten said...

Kenju - How can you know me and not know about Sexstone? They're the nice people that make our records and gave me my first writing job. www.sexstone.net

Jennifer said...

Ah, Rock Lake Pool. I miss it still. Spent many a great weekend afternoon in that massive place.

There's a miniature golf/game complex there now. It's sad. :-(

Michele sent me, but I'm here all the time anyway. *lol*

Karen said...

I love summer it's really good for the soul.......

Have a great weekend - here via M

metten said...

it is work safe.

colleenR said...

We had some of the same elements in our pieces...going out at night and fireflies. I had planned to mention some teenage stuff but my story sort of dictated itself...from the bottom up! Your swing was almost the perspective I took from my feet...but then you went into the woods. I feel for kids today who don't spend much time outdoors. We had TV (black and white) but were not allowed to watch it during the day...all that radiation which no one talks about anymore...and my mother with 9 "needed" us out from under her feet! Thanks for your compliment!

colleenR said...

PS I was very curious about The Frog and Nightgown club so I googled it...I found it...but no mention of what the cockney origin for the phrase is.

phoenix said...

Ah Many similar memories of hiking in the woods at 11 and 12 years old in Arkansas. Always alone and what an adventure I always had. Never once did I come upon anything dangerous. Kids these days do not know what they are missing!!

Laura said...

What great memories!

Hi via Michele!

Heather said...

Here via Michele! Great post, I really enjoyed reading it :)

-H
www.thismomslife.com

Kimberly said...

Lovely imagery, Judy!

I just read Fred's post today, and am planning to write about summer soon.

(Here from Michele's.)

Carmi said...

Hi there. Michele sent me, and I'm glad she did. What a wonderful recollection from your childhood. Your entry took me back to my own.

Guppyman said...

Hello... Michelle sent me.... Don't worry about not being able to comment at my place.... I understand... (But you might try right clicking the comment link and saying open in a new window)

;)

Steph said...

Thank you - that was beautiful. I absolutely love thinking back to the more simple and innocent times of childhood.

By the way, Michelle sent me.

Have a great weekend!

caramaena said...

What a lovely memory of summer. Must have been wonderful to live that time.

Michele said...

Oh. My. Goodness. What a glorious post. For a moment my world stood still and I entered the summers of your childhood. I could hear your laughter, I could feel the warm breeze, I could hear the piano from my spot on the front swing. Thank you so much for sharing each pearl of memory that makes up a beautiful necklace of summertime recollections. Simply beautiful.