If you are not yet fully familiar to Lorie Sheffer’s storytelling, and are deciding whether or not to read this one, may I assure you, that this one will take you back to your childhood and a “simpler time”. Treat yourself. And get ready for a great summer. Take it away Lorie:
As Memorial Day weekend approaches, marking the official start of summer, I think back to last year at this time. My mother in law was in her final months of Alzheimer’s and I couldn’t help but remember some happier times with her. One memory that stood out in my mind was a summer night many years ago, sitting on her patio watching old home movies. My kids, then about five and ten years old, were amazed to see grainy black and white imagines of their Nana as a young woman, swimsuit clad and body surfing in the waves at Ocean City Maryland. “Is that REALLY you?” they asked her. “Well, I wasn’t always a Nana!” she shot back. As her illness progressed, I thought of that night and of how she really did sum it up for all of us. That elderly woman, physically ill and consumed by dementia, had once been a carefree young girl enjoying summer at the beach.
As I walked through our neighborhood one warm night, more to get out of the house and the stressfulness of what lay ahead more than for any other reason, I couldn’t help but notice that my house was the only one with open windows. I listened for the sounds of baseball games on the radios and televisions, kids playing flashlight tag or catching fireflies, but the only sound was the low drone of central air. When did we decide we couldn’t live outside of a hermetically sealed, climate-controlled world?
What comes to mind when you think of the summers of your childhood? I grew up in a home without air conditioning. My brother, cousins and I would fill galvanized metal tubs with water and sit in them, or we would walk through the fields until we came to the tiny stream that runs through the edge of the woods. There we would take off our sneakers and wade in the water, in the shade of the big old oaks and maples. We laid on the cool cement porches in the evenings, tuning in the transistor radio to the Orioles games. I still remember the excitement of waking up in the middle of the night and piling into our car, windows open, to leave for our yearly summer vacation. Dad would have the Apache camper hooked onto the trailer hitch, and we would head 500 miles south to camp for a week in Myrtle Beach.
When I returned from my walk later that evening and had taken a cool shower, my husband and I laid in bed under our ceiling fan listening to the crickets and the frogs that were croaking in the pond at our nearby park. I decided then and there to put some childhood back into summer. Bring on the nostalgia! We committed ourselves to a summer without central air. We bought a few tower fans and found they did a surprisingly good job of cooling the house to a tolerable temperature. I cooked most meals on the grill or we had cold dinners of salads and fruits. Best of all, we spent more time playing in our pool with our grandson than we had in all previous years combined. I must admit, that first cannonball into the water was a real awakening. Not only did I displace more water than I ever imagined I was capable of, but my butt did quite a bounce off of the bottom of the pool. We reacquainted ourselves with the amazing flavors of freeze pops; we listened for the sound of the snowball man’s bell every afternoon, and I got muddy wading in the creek. I learned that ice cream is so a food group, super soakers are way better than the little water pistols I had grown up with and nobody cares if you eat dinner in a wet swimsuit. My husband discovered the pleasure of eating his dinner while floating in a giant inflatable pool chair. After all, he wasn’t always a Grampy! Our grandson loved hanging out with the big old kids.
This weekend we will uncover the pool, scrub down the deck furniture and prepare another childish summer. We can hardly wait! What a reason to celebrate.