Queen Anne's Lace

Nature's art

“Summertime and the livin’ is easy!”  Yes, Youngsters, there was a summertime that was easy livin’!  Way back when the sun was always shining and the grass was always cool to bare feet.  The barn cat had kittens for the taming and the swish, swish of horses’ tails was part of the music of living.  Big sisters or big brothers was not just an organization for unfortunate children, but flesh and blood siblings good for rides on horseback or playing catch in the backyard.

There were ripening tomatoes in the garden that needed no salt for that juicy, run-down-your-chin summer taste and young field corn was as sweet as today’s sweet corn.  When a plate of fried potatoes, fresh corn and red sliced tomatoes was a staple of the lunch table, and the campground was out behind the corn crib with old quilts for tents and ghost stories that chilled the bones.  When the scariest thing you ever heard was, “It floats, it floats…..what floats?……Ivory Soap!”

It was a time for hair rinsed with vinegar and brushed dry in the sun; When we didn’t need Clarirol or L’oreal or Cover Girl to be beautiful.  We had youth and country summer tans and bare feet so calloused they could run across a cinder lane and not miss a lick.  We had faded cut-off jeans and cotton shirts with rolled-up sleeves and straw hats for shade.  We had creeks that purled over rocks with holes here and there for swimming and big rocks for sunning.

There were no deadlines except for mealtimes, and bedtime could be put off indefinitely if the fireflies were dancing over the lawn.  There was always a Ball jar to catch them in and a parent to poke holes in the lid to keep them alive.  There were Tumble Bugs to watch as they rolled their dung ball down a dirt road and scrambled to catch it again when a dusty bare toe flicked it down the lane a foot or two.

Summertime was outdoors and sunshine and thunder storms that rolled and flashed across the prairie in spectacular displays that didn’t need a holiday to bring on.  Summertime was free shows at the local grocery store with a dishpan full of popcorn and friends sitting on blankets watching black and white figures dancing and riding across a ‘screen’ stretched between two trees.  It was three or four kinds of sugar-loaded pop that cost 5c a bottle pulled cold and frosty from a big red metal cooler that had Coca-Cola written across it.

Summertime was family reunions when the pies were all homemade, the tables stretched clear across the yard and watermelon was a special treat.  It was old-timers sitting on the verandah spinning stories of the past and telling jokes us kids didn’t quite understand but laughed at anyway.

Now, we must make new memories for our kids.  If we can lure them away from their Game Boys, and cartoons; if we can squeeze in time apart from Little League and organized programs, we might have time to catch fireflies and tell ghost stories.  We might find a night and a place where the stars are so bright they tell stories of their own.  And while we’re doing all this, let’s don’t forget when summer was freedom and imagination and youth.                   -D. Swanson


About dswan2

Poet, author, columnist, lyricist, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, wife of 50 years. Born and raised in America's Heartland
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