Summertime is for children

The temperature went down to 13 degrees last night. I flung open the windows and crawled beneath my heavy blanket pulled up to my chin and slept comfortably, the air coming in the window fragrant and fresh.
When I got up this morning, the air was still chilly as Gracie and I strolled, but as the wind lifted my hair I heard it whisper its warning.
“Summer is fleeing,” said the breeze and I winced. And it got me thinking about my childhood summers.
Summertime was for children, is for children. We escaped school and timetables and bagged lunches with limp tomato and cheese sandwiches.
My mother became my mother again instead of being my principal.
We embraced summer with extraordinary vigour, never worrying about how many days were rain-filled or sunny, never watching the calendar.
Summer was tree forts, eating peas straight from the garden, riding ponies, picnics in the back yard.
My mother made a mean picnic with egg salad sandwiches, the crusts cut off and the dill pickles sliced into slivers, with lemonade in sealer jars.
Summer was lying on the hill and finding turtles and rabbits and castles in the clouds, while listening to the grasshoppers snap their hind wings.
The highlight of summer was Rainy Lake, specifically slipping into the water from the beach on Reef Point at my Aunt Helen’s cabin.
At home, summer was haying, driving the tractor, never feeling the burden of farming but only the fun.
Going to Reef Point was an adventure, one we counted on, waited for, the breathless freedom of it.
It was sitting in the front of the canoe while my cousin Dale maneuvered us around the bay and to the tiny island where we imagined pirates had left their treasure. When we couldn’t find the loot we settled for sweet blueberries.
It was having a Styrofoam duck buckled around my waist because I couldn’t swim and watching from the beach as the big kids played tag under the inverted military issue air rafts when cousins from the “other side” came to visit.
Rainy Lake was the sound of the screen door banging on the cabin and the patter of bare feet down the well-packed trail to the beach.
It was trapping minnows in a tea towel and catching frogs in the pond and it was roasting marshmallows over the fire that cracked and snapped and zinged.
In some ways I am re-capturing my childhood summers now.
I am floating on Falls Lake, my arms stretched out, the water’s appearance dark and brown but fresh and only slightly cool. I am buoyant and weightless and I can pretend I am a child again, having learned to swim.
I no longer have to stay on the beach. I set the tiny branches alight in my fire pit and toast marshmallows until they burst into flames, their coating crunchy and black and delicious.
I can hear the loon in the distance, her voice a signal that everything is as it should be.
I am home, tucked safely in my memories, so very glad to pull them in around me in the cool air as August devours summer.
wendistewart@live.ca

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