Monday, June 23, 2014

Memories of summer

Summer is here. Back in December, the hourglass flipped and daylight gradually grew longer until this week, when it flipped in the other direction. 

The meaning of summer for me has changed through the years.

During junior-high-school, summers meant endless hours fishing, swimming and floating down the river like a turtle on a drifting log. 

I learned to waterski, bait a trotline, cook over an open campfire, skin a catfish and drive a boat.

Then, in high school, my focus changed. Summers found me dreaming of Panama City, Florida and girls in skimpy bathing suits. I can still close my eyes and smell Coppertone suntan lotion. It probably didn’t have any sun block in it, but it contained something that made my teenage hormones rage. I loved that smell.

The dread began in late August because school started right after Labor Day back then.

Once in college, summertime changed again. The days of the free ride were over.

My parents helped me get into college and let me stay at home free of charge for a time. But they didn’t raise me to be a freeloader, so I went to work and began paying my own way.

It took most of my weekly paycheck to put gas in my car. At that time, I drove a 1965 Impala SS with a motor bigger than most of the states on the Eastern seaboard.

My gas consumption was not calculated in miles per gallon as it normally is but gallons per mile.

It was fire engine red with Raider mag wheels. I’d roll down the windows and punch my favorite tape, which was the size of a peanut butter sandwich, into the eight-track player. 

Even when it was hotter than the devils bar-b-que pit, I’ve never looked cooler in a car. For me, it was the perfect summer ride.

Uncle Sam drafted me out of college, and the time I spent in Panama was an endless summer.

After the Army, I joined the workforce and summers were compressed into two weeks, which is all the vacation I got in those early years.

It seemed by the time we packed the car and drove to our vacation destination, it was time to turn around and head back to the grindstone.

I learned to enjoy long-weekend vacations to summer festivals, the beach and to state parks.

Once I retired, summers began as soon as the earth warmed enough to plant a garden, or when the sun on my back made it warm enough to go fly fishing on the Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River.

These days I can go wet a line any morning during the week, when most of the working folk are hard at it.

Now, summer also means doing those chores I’ve put off all winter. Last winter seemed to go on forever, so my list this year is much longer than usual.

Another thing about summer these days is that the fruit trees, berry bushes and grape vines that we planted years ago are maturing, giving us an abundant harvest.

We’ve put up five gallons of blueberries so far and the bushes are still hanging full.

We still love the beach, but not so much in summer when those crowds of pesky high school sun-worshiping kids fresh out of classes swarm like bees to sweet flowers.

Summer, like most of the things in life, changes with time, and with all things considered, that’s fine with me.


  1. This is a lot how summers changed for me too Rick... I am going to relive a little and go swimming at the lake this summer... it's been 20 years at least ;-)

  2. Now you made me long for a long summer vacation at a cottage by a small lake with all the time to do just as I please with not a care in the world just like when I was a kid. We didn't had a cottage a the lake but I was carefree to go to the brook anytime I wanted. Something has changed in our Summers, the weather is more extreme and the world has gotten smaller and we're too busy to stop to smell the roses.

    In 1966 we had a Red Chevrolet Impala. I wouldn't mind going back to that time if I could.

    Time to return to reality. Have a good day Rick. Copper Tone and hormone hehehe.

  3. mmm, it all sounds so poetic. And your car was amazing - whatever happened to it? Would you want to drive one again?

  4. It's amazing how a smell can take you down memory lane. When I was a kid summer planning began in winter when Dad got out the Rand McNally road map and camp guide and we picked our route and sites. Summers have changed and now I'm looking forward to retirement summer days in, hopefully, 5yrs. In the mean time I might just go buy some coppertone!

  5. Excellent post. I have those retirement summer day now but I occasionally long for the past!

  6. I can relate to your feelings on summer, only from a female perspective. I love spring to if I could only get away from the cold Midwestern winters, things would be perfect. I do as much as I can by traveling quite a bit during the winter, looking for my summer weather in warmer areas of the country...ah, summer!

  7. Anonymous2:11 PM

    I like your attitude, Rick!!

  8. I don't remember a bad summer, and I spent two of them monstrously pregnant through very hot July, August and Septembers! Before air conditioning. Before recorded history, actually.
    Thanks, nice trip down a memory lane.


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