Try to think summer and not picture a swimming pool. Impossible. Sparking blue water. The smell of Coppertone mixed with chlorine. The snack bar. Don’t you wonder who sat down by the lake and thought You know, we could dig a big hole in the ground, line it with rebar, concrete, blue plexiglass, and then fill it up with water! Aren’t you glad they did? I’m old enough to remember when not everyone had a backyard pool. We went to a town pool or a neighborhood pool or – if you were fancy schmancy – the country club. My grandmother in Dallas walked us to the pool on Skillman from her little house in Lakewood. She had very strict rules about how we carried our towels. Never over our shoulders. Only folded over our right arm. For real. I remember the stone walls, the changing rooms, and the showers where we rinsed off our hair and our swimwear before heading home again. In California, our swimming hole was the pool on Ft. MacArthur at the Officer’s Club. They had a high-dive. My children still don’t believe I used to dive off that diving board. Or that we had to wear swim caps. Mine was covered in pink rubber flowers. I could tell story after story about summer swimming. How many of your childhood summer memories were related to a swimming pool? See?
Did you go? Church camp, Scout camp, band camp, social camps. Day camp was our thing growing up as Brownie Girl Scouts where we wove sit-upons, foraged in the woods for wildflowers to make a centerpiece to lay in the dirt, and made ‘mugs’ from orange juice cans, two pieces of wire, and a stick. We wore those on our belts. We hung our lunches on a rope stretched between two trees so the bears wouldn’t get them. Bears? Seriously? I’m guessing ants. At the end of the day, we always sang Day is done, gone the sun, from the lake, from the hills, from the sky...
One summer I went away to summer camp, also Girl Scouts. I can’t imagine what I was thinking. We slept on cots in screened cabins, earned new merit badges, and played archery. I don’t remember much about those days. A week? Maybe it was two. I still can smell the showers every time I open a bottle of Lysol. On Sunday night, dinner was white bread and a ginormous bowl of peanut butter mixed with honey. All-you-can-eat. Fix it yourself. And on Sunday morning we put on our ‘dress uniform’ – dark green shorts, white camp shirt, scout kerchief around our necks – and went to church in the main cabin. Surely I went with my best friend. I was not a brave child. I also was not a camper. But I did love The Parent Trap!
Do you remember this?
Packing the car for a road trip to Yellowstone. A flight to Florida to relax on the beach. A cruise to Alaska. A week at the grandparents. There’s nothing that says summer like a vacation. Anywhere but home! I always envied the families who road tripped to the Rockies. You know, the Brady Bunch went to the Old West. The Mertz and the Ricardos sang their way to California. The families in the Green Stamps catalog were always going camping. And those campers looked like so much fun! Everything is so compact. As a child, we always went to the grandparents’ house, rode in the West of the Pecos 4th of July Rodeo parade, and played with the cousins. Once we drove to New Mexico to a mountain cabin and were wilderness children for a week. Well, my sister and I played with our Barbies on the screened porch, but I’m sure we went for a couple of walks, too. And family reunions were a real thing. In the summer. In West Texas. With relatives we did not know. We never were tourists. We traveled to see family. I had not flown until I was in college. Things do change. Our grandkids flew before they walked. Our children see the world. And sometimes they invite us along. I still love the idea of loading the car with snacks, inviting the dog, and heading out to see the family. ❤️
If you are the parent of young children, you probably think I’m talking about the free time you relish while the munchkins are sleeping, but truly I’m talking about adult naps. My nap, in particular. When I’m sleepy, nothing feels so good as having the absolute luxury of being able to just go to sleep. On a made bed with a soft pillow and a throw for when I get cold. When I was teaching, afternoon naps were frowned upon by most school administrators, so I had to wait for the weekend. Those mid-afternoon hours were golden. If I had a nail appointment or errands to run, I timed them so I could be back by two o’clock. Three at the latest. I like for it to still be daylight when I wake up. And Sunday afternoon is totally nap time. Church in the morning. Tuna sandwiches made with apple for lunch. Nap. And if you married well, when you wake up from your nap, you smell the grill on the deck and there is quacamole on the counter covered with a paper towel, just waiting for you to taste-test ❤️. Of course, in the summer, everyday can be nap day. But I think if we napped every day, we would lose some of the joy of the ever-so-often nap. And those are priceless.
Apparently I am grateful for summer. In particular for June. When life revolves around the school year, June symbolizes freedom. That first day of summer vacation. Ahhhh. As a parent, no alarm clock or carpool or forgotten homework. As a teacher, ditto. In June, the summer looks endless. And full of potential. Days in the sun. Naps on the deck. Reading ‘til midnight. Cold watermelon and Texas peaches, fresh cherries, and Pecos cantaloupe. To a child? The smells of Off and Coppertone and the trucks spraying carcinogens to kill the mosquitoes. Being asked to sit on the ice cream freezer so the grownups could turn the crank. Oh wait. We have Blue Bell now. Lightning bugs and playing outside until dark:30. Summer reading at the library and drive thru raspas. Those are snow cones, gringos. Unlimited library books and visiting the cousins. Fishing trips, crabbing in the dark, baseball games, American flags from Memorial Day to the 4th of July. There just is no such free as June free. 🇺🇸
No shoes, no shirt, no problem.”Kenny Chesney
Kenny Chesney says it best. Listen here.