Sunday, July 12, 2009

Summer's lease hath all too short a date.

...the sound of a screen door banging, catching fire flies in a jar, ice cream dripping down my chin, splashing in a pool.

These are things I remember from my childhood summers. Glorious, carefree days spent with the other neighborhood baby boomers, just being kids. We told ghost stories by flashlight in the backyard at night. We chased the ice cream man for blocks. We created a bicycle-built-for-two out the remnants of neighborhood castoffs.... I miss my childhood summers--nowadays, the season is gone before I've even had a chance to enjoy it. Anybody else feel that way?

I had wonderful summers as a kid. Not only did we have a blast playing outside, but every year my folks would rent a trailer and we would spend 2 weeks on the road. Gypsies in an Airstream. I saw the entire Eastern seaboard of the US and Canada by the time I was 15. The first time I ever had pecan pie was at a roadside diner in Georgia. And my first taste of New England clam chowder was at a cafe on the wharf in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Not too shabby.

I think it was these travels that started my life-long fascination with--and facility for performing--accents. I heard the clipped, taciturn responses of the New Englanders one summer, and the slow easy drawls of the Blue Ridge Mountains the next. Add the French of Quebec to that and it was quite an education. Geography class was so much more real to me as a result.

I saw Niagara Falls, the Bay of Fundy, Cape Kennedy, Prince Edward Island, the Outer Banks, Cape Cod... the list is endless. I just wish I could have given my kids these experiences. I know they would have appreciated it as much as my brothers and I did.

Instead, my daughter and son--and then my grandson--got summers in Cape May. They learned about tides and fishing. They built sand castles, went crabbing and learned to surf. To this day, they come alive in the sun. Sadly, we no longer have the family's getaway and they miss it dearly. But they've found other options to just kick back and enjoy what the season has to offer. Me--I'm still wishing I was 10 again.

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