I have been trying to reincarnate the “rain dance” used by our Native Americans …. but to date, Mother Nature is just not cooperating. However, I must say ~ her breezes that move the leaves have been a blessing moving the muggy out of the air, and makes sitting in the shade at least pleasant.
But I sit here, thinking back ~ when we were kids. As I bring back memories ~ we never seemed to mind the heat of summer. Being outdoors was wonderful. There were cowboys and indians to fight. Trees to climb. Rocks to find. Hide and seek when evening began to fall. Laying in the coolness of the grass, in a shaded area, but still able to view the sky watching the clouds as they floated by. Taking turns as to what we saw ~ a hand, a dog, a marshmallow ~ tigers and bears, oh my! Listening to different birds and watching the them flutter from one branch to another ~ keeping us entertained. With our dogs, Rocky and Peanuts, lazily enjoying our restful existance, they would both perk-up hearing the squirrels chatter, letting us know ~ “we” all were in their territory. Watched in amazement as the dogs tried their best to climb the tree. Soon, they’d give up and come back, but keeping a close watch just in case those noisy squirrels ventured to the ground.
We built a fort among the bushes in our neighbors yard ~ seeking the coolness it provided. We looked forward to the days the “men” would come to open the fire hydrant, just at the corner of our street ~ what a delight and the water was so cold! How could that be when it was so very hot out. We would ride our bikes, feeling the wind that seemed to be so strong ~ cooling us off. But when we stopped! No breeze at all. Looking down a sunny street ~ a glistening mirage of “water” would catch our eye. Racing on our trusty bikes, we would try our best to catch it, only to have it move further down the street. The kaleidoscope mirage was beautiful ~ rainbow colors that seemed to float just above the pavement. Eventually, tired and hot from the chase ~ we were never able to step into the “pool” that we tried to capture in the distance.
There was no public swimming pool in our town; nor, did we have water slide parks “back in the day”. Our only “sprinkler” was the hose that mom would string through to the top of a ladder ~ more like a shower without soap ~ but cool! Then one day, my dad brought home the most marvelous invention ~ a hose with a hundreds of little holes in it which allowed a multitude of light spray to come out, in all directions. We were in heaven the first time he hooked it up and saw how it worked. Then unhappily we heard, “This is only to be used to water the lawn”, he said. But, when dad was at work, mom would hook it up for us ~ one, two …. three!! ~ squealing as we ran through the wonderful water fountain of cold water. It was the best half hour ever! My brothers would “get me and my girlfriends” out of the way by sneaking up with a frog or worms in their hands, threatening to put them on us. Ooooo ~ nasty!! Mom!!!!! She was my hero in so many ways ~ but a very stern “ruler of the roost” when necessary ~ of course, concerning my brothers. She was never one to wait for dad to get home!
My girlfriends and I would spend hours, it seemed, playing jacks on the concrete slab we had as a porch ~ so cool to sit on before the sun warmed it, late in the afternoon. We would play with dolls on the shaded patio of my best friend, creating plays of our own with kings and queens holding court. It was fun announcing that my brother’s head was to be chopped off! We would color, making pictures and creating our own stories of far-away lands. We also made up our own “secret code” for notes among us, so the boys (or teacher’s) would not have a clue to the message.
The best adventure we had was when mom and dad would take us to Pounds Hollow … a lake in Southern IL among a forest of very tall pine trees. My first memory of the lake was when I was 4 years old. We had to park on top of the hill and walk down the earthmade steps between the trees. You could not see the lake until you were about half way down the hill…then, thru the trees, you could see the sparkling lake ~ full of what looked like bright jewels floating, changing, as the sunbeams danced upon the water. Back then, $.50 must have been precious because dad always huffed and puffed because it cost so much just to “swim in a lake”! Mom just smiled and we knew ~ he loved it just as much as we did. So excited I was to get to the lake, play in the water, build sand castles, but didn’t venture too far into the water on my own ~ squishy mud! Ick!! So mom would carry me out a ways with me clinging to her neck for dear life. We never went out too far because she didn’t know to swim, either. Once she got me disconnected from her neck and holding my hands, she would swirl me around in the water ~ reassuring me, she wouldn’t let go. We’d watch as dad and my brothers would swim to a large raft ~ seemed like a very long ways out. It had a diving board attached. Dad would do “swan” dives which made me and mom laugh. My brothers would just dive off the side. But thinking back ~ when did my brothers learn to swim? We didn’t have swimming classes ~ who taught them? I’ll have to ask dad. We would stay all afternoon, then have a picnic before heading home.
Summer ~ as a child, I just don’t remember minding that it was hot, because it was summer. No school, no set agenda ~ free to do whatever we found to keep us occupied, which seemed to make mom very happy. Able to visit our cousins, have home-made ice cream, fresh strawberries right out of the patch with shortcake freshly made that day by grandma. Going to the drive-in with mom and dad. Finding hiding places away from my brothers!! Life was much slower and peaceful then or, so it seemed. Sometimes I think ~ “if only I could go back” but instead just sit back and take a walk down memory lane. Makes these hot, hazy days of summer seem almost bearable.
To all ~ enjoy your summer….one day at a time. Always ~ Elichap