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Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Summer Memories

By kenju of Imagine What I'm Leaving Out

As a youngster, summers were spent riding my bike, playing tag, hide-and-seek, and all the other games that kids play. Catching lightning bugs was a favorite pasttime; I loved going out at night after dinner and feeling the warm breezes on my skin, while running through the yards with a mason jar looking for bugs.

Since there was no TV yet, we spent a lot of time in a porch swing talking about the day, remembering the past and discussing family issues. It was in that swing at age six I learned that I was adopted, "chosen" as they called it. It was where I heard that my favorite uncle was going into the Navy and from that swing, we heard the neighbors' fights, other mothers' admonitions to wayward children and the sounds of piano practice.

At age eight, we moved and summers were spent mostly in the woods around our new home near a recreation site for the families of Union Carbide employees. We were the last house on the street, surrounded by woods and animals and wildflowers. I loved nothing better than going into those woods day after day, seeking new critters, bugs, flowers, seed pods, creeks and rocks to look under.

My mom was so paranoid about most things that I still cannot fathom why she was so agreeable to seeing me (at ages 8-11) go off into the woods every day. I was warned to run home if I smelled watermelon - it is supposed to be the predominate smell when there is a copperhead snake nearby. I saw many a copperhead while growing up, but none on my jaunts into the woods.

The smells of deep woods - leaf mold, clear water creeks and wildflowers haunt me even now. I can still conjure it at will. I found many crayfish, fishing worms, crickets, tadpoles, frogs and the like, and they all made it home with me at one time or another. I also picked up a few ticks along the way, but they were removed with no ill effects when I got home.

One year a group of teenagers decided to dam up the small creek nearby to create a swimming hole. I helped them locate and carry rocks for the dam, and they barely tolerated my presence except for the help I was so willing to give. Eventually they created a swimming hole of about four feet deep, enough to float in, if not really swim.

It was cool, clear running water and good for the soul. I spent many an hour there, surrounded by tall trees and dappled shade. I was once in a seminar in which the leader asked us to get still and "go back to your favorite quiet place". I knew immediately where I would go and with the snap of a finger I was back in those woods with only the trees and breeze for company.

In my area, we had a huge swimming pool complex that had been built into the side of an old rock quarry. Virtually everyone went there on weekends as it was one of the few public pools around in those days. They had the big main pool, baby pools, a games area and a dance floor, and they always played the current popular songs for our "dancing pleasure".

And dance we did as the sun burned brightly and tanning or swimming became boring, we piled onto the dance floor like sardines in a can. It was heaven. If your current boyfriend was not in attendance that weekend, there were always scores of others waiting in the wings. And don't get me started about life guards - they of the bronzed bodies and rippling biceps. It was every 15-year-old's dream, even if the guards were far too old for us.

During the week, my girlfriend and I would walk about a mile every day to the local dairy store to have a Coke and an order of fries. We told our mothers that the reason for this daily foray was our friendship, but we were not completely truthful. The route we walked was guaranteed to take us by the homes of some boys whose attention we coveted, and some days we were rewarded with a wave and a hello or maybe conversation, if we were very lucky. I don't know if they ever realized our motives, but we were so obvious I don't know how they couldn't have.

Summers in later years were not as idyllic since I had to work and save money for college. Those were good experiences too, of course, but the best summers were spent in nature, sitting on a rock or turning it over to see what was underneath.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 03:25 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

This is a lovely story, Judy, I can identify with much of what you describe, especially the woods, a swimming hole, some critters. Did we realize when we were young, just how quickly those years would pass?

No, we did not, Joared. And I am still surprised by it!

Thanks, Ronni.

I really like the way you told about your youth days. It feels like I was there with you.

This was wonderful Judy. I related to so much of what you wrote. There was something beautiful about those summer days back then that I've never quite felt as an adult...maybe it was just being young and figuring out what life was all about.

It sounds like you were somewhere closeby in MY woods! :-)
Tadpoles, crayfish and the occasional snake were my buddies as I dammed up the creek behind my home. I tried my best to keep those feelings alive as I reached my teens, but my girlfriends who came over to play opted instead to play the latest 45's on my record player or to make joke phone calls to the cute boys in school. Even now, I will sometimes lay on my back in the grass watching the cloud shapes and remembering....

Great story. I too appreciated the times spent outdoors playing in nature over any other memories.

That is a wonderful story Judy. I used to catch lightening bugs too...and can still remember they're smell.

Hehehe...oops, haven't had my second cup of coffee yet...I mean I can still remember their smell.

What a wonderful story, Judy. It reminds me of many of my childhood memories as well. Thank you for sharing that.

Great tale Judy, the memories of childhood are very special.

I enjoyed reading about your childhood summers. Mine were at the ocean, yours in the woods.

When you wrote, "I loved nothing better than going into the woods seeking flowerrs........You always had that love for flowers - that's how come you are such a great florist!!

It goes back to your childhood. No charge for that analysis.

You da woman, Judy. Keep the faith ^j^

Just great Judy. I feel we are kin somehow as I also came alive when I was out of doors,as a child, barefoot and carefree.

thanks for the memories.

Great story, Judy. It brings back fond memories

I wonder if childhood adventures in the woods result in a lifelong love of nature, mine surely did

I had never seen lightning bugs until my daughter moved back east. It's so fun to see my grandkids chase after them.

Excellent, Judy!!!!!!!!! Sounds a lot like me growing up in Toledo except my refuge was the banks of the Ottawa River! Ohhhhh the memories you brought back! Thanks!!!!!!

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