Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Do you remember (or are you still in that wonderful place) when summer was a magical time? I remember looking forward to summer vacation with both joy and longing -- longing to be done with school and all of its trappings (like homework and dress codes and SCHEDULES) and the joy of knowing I had three solid months of relative leisure ahead of me.

Summers meant freedom. Summers meant lazy afternoons spent doing stuff I liked to do (playing jacks or hopscotch with my girlfriends on Morse Street when I was in grade school, hanging out with my friends at the neighborhood playground or walking several miles to and from the nearest library or riding my bike in the cool of the evening, feeling the whooosh of cool air on my face when I raced downhill).

Back then, hot weather didn't bother me much, even though we didn't have air conditioners. When I was a teenager, I'd slather myself with baby oil (later, with Bain du Soleil tanning gel) and lie out on the lawn, baking in the hot sun, working on my tan. At night, one large window fan would pull the hot air out of the house and suck in cool evening air. It was a rare night that the house didn't cool down by morning, even though our summers were hot and humid.

And the foods of summer were so, so, so wonderful! Corn on the cob and tomatoes grown in New Jersey (which really was the 'garden state' back then), watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, peaches and plums -- a wonderful, delicious mix of sweet, juicy, delicious fruit that was always available in our refrigerator. In the summer, every evening meal started with a thick slice of cantaloupe and even though I prefer to eat fruit for dessert these days, I sure loved that cold, sweet start to every evening meal in the summertime.

Even when I started to work in the summers, those months were still magical.

And the summer evenings! Warm, soft evenings, filled with fireflies (we called them 'lightening bugs', but I'm trying to be a wee bit more lyrical here). Sometimes, there'd be a thunderstorm, with a rush of rain and spectacular lightening (I was afraid of lightening, of course, until my dad taught me to count the seconds between the flash of light and the thunderclap so I'd know just how far away the lightening hit had really been). When the storm ended, I'd go outside just to smell that distinctive smell of rain on hot, concrete sidewalks. It's a smell that still means 'summer' for me, even though I now live in a part of the country where summer rains are very rare, indeed.

Funny, isn't it, how one's perceptions change? I no longer work outside the home (hell, I don't work much inside our home either, thanks to MS!), so the magic I used to associate with summer gone. No more afternoons playing jacks with my girlfriends, or sulty summer evenings spent sitting out on someone's front steps, waiting for a lightening bug to flit by so I could catch it and hold it in my cupped hand to watch the little flashes of light through my fingers. No more bike rides in the blue-gray of dusk, racing to get home before it got too dark to see where I was going. And for sure, no more slathering myself with tanning gel and spending four or five hours baking in the sun.

I miss that feeling, but it's sure nice to have those memories.

And we definitely have the fruit and tomatoes and corn on the cob!

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