Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A love letter for the first day of summer

The summers I was little meant getting up early and staying outside until it was too dark to see. It mean eating watermelon on the front porch and spitting the seeds out into the dirt, the juice dripping down my chin. It meant my cousins, who were the closest thing I had to friends, coming over and staying for days at a time. We didn't have toys other than our own imagination and everyday, we made up a new game to play. We knotted daisy chains into our hair and climbed trees and ate sour grapes that always gave us a bellyache.

On the weekends, there were cookouts, twenty or so of us in lawn chairs, watching the smoke drift up from the grill. We'd watch the sun set, the sky fading from blue to pink to gold. When it got dark, we'd hunt fireflies, chasing after their tiny lights while the cicadas hummed in the tall grass. When we got tired, we'd lie on our backs and watch the moon come up, trying to keep track of the stars.

Everything seemed to happen on our front porch in the summer. This was where my grandpa used to sit and tell me stories about the war. My granny would pick string beans and we'd sit on the porch, a bucket between us, snapping them in half. She taught me how to shell peas, breaking off the end and then running my thumb down the middle to force them out. She showed me how to shuck corn, how to peel back each layer and bring away all the cornsilk.

Sometimes, my mother would take me with her to work. She cleaned houses during the day in a well-to-do suburb a couple of miles away. She didn't have a car so we used to walk, careful to mind the blind spots. A fast car on a country road is a dangerous thing. Sometimes we'd stop on the way and pick blackberries growing wild. I remember their softness, the way they burst open in my mouth, sweet and sour at the same time, always a surprise.

In the summer, I could stay up late, watching movies on cable. I could hide out in my room, reading for hours if I wanted to. I could eat breakfast or not, make my bed or not. There were no bedtimes, no rules, no do this or that. If my cousins were around, there was no controlling us. Dirt-kneed barefoot savages, we ran wild and my granny figured it was better to leave us to our own devices. "Godless heathens", she'd call us and we'd laugh and run off again.

Summer was trips to the beach and horseback rides. It was wearing my swimsuit all day, chasing each other with the hose. It was water-balloon fights and baseball games and carnivals. It was ice cream and firecrackers and driving around the countryside with my granny, stopping at every fruit stand on the way. It was fun and freedom and days that never seemed to end. And most of all, it was that feeling of being young and knowing the best was still ahead of you.


Blogger Delaleuverses said...

Ahhhhhhhh, you bought out some beautiful memories of summer, thanks for sharing this great post

6/21/2006 9:01 AM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Thanks, I didn't realize how much I remembered until I wrote it. I really miss those summers.

6/21/2006 9:04 AM  
Blogger Flood said...

In the summer, I could stay up late, watching movies on cable. I could hide out in my room, reading for hours if I wanted to.

This is true for kids in the summer as long as they stay out from underfoot. Important to not call attention to yourself as summerkid or else they confuse you with schoolkid and send you to bed at a decent hour.

You really need to get out of my head. Our thoughts have been kinda riding the same waves lately.

6/21/2006 9:24 AM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Flood, sorry. I'm going to go think about something totally useless now, okay?

6/21/2006 9:32 AM  
Anonymous fringes said...

When we are in our darkest moments, we start to question our gifts and talents as scribes for all the world's experiences. Those moments of doubt do seem unavoidable. But, Rebecca, if you ever again wonder if you have "it" as a writer, I will personally come to your house and beat the shit out of you. This post today was over-the-top perfect. Your blog contains many other examples of your talent. Thanks for being here for us.

6/21/2006 12:07 PM  
Blogger J. Newberry said...

God, I love your writing.

Simply beautiful.

6/21/2006 12:29 PM  
Blogger Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

I could picture all of this as if it was a movie! Really good.

6/21/2006 12:40 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Gee, no one's ever threatened to come to my house and beat the shit out of me before. Thanks?

6/21/2006 2:07 PM  
Anonymous fringes said...

For your own good, sister. For your own good.

6/21/2006 2:15 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Fringes, you know what I just realized? Everyone thinks I can do it but me. What the hell does that mean?

6/21/2006 2:25 PM  
Blogger Jaye Wells said...

Everyone thinks I can do it but me. What the hell does that mean?

It means you're a perfectly normal writer. Welcome to the club.

6/21/2006 2:46 PM  
Anonymous fringes said...

I think that's your next post. And the one after that. And the one after that. Once you start writing and collecting your thoughts into one place, and you look at them from a distance a few months from now, you'll soon know what everyone else already does.

You won't even need us to tell you how good you are, but we will anyway because you deserve that from us.

6/21/2006 2:47 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Jaye, welcome. Fringes, you're giving me too much credit I think. I'm really just a big 'ol faker and I'm worried you're all going to catch on to me someday.

6/21/2006 3:10 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

That's a beautiful post. But the first day of summer? If it's the first day of summer there, then it's the first day of winter here, and that's a really depressing thought. I thought we were halfway through. Especially since yesterday was the shortest day. And it's snowing, and cold. (It doesn't snow here, much)
Is it the first day of summer school holidays? That would make sense..

6/21/2006 4:41 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

I was back there with you, remembering my own past and how I did some of those same things. I remembered my own grandmother, and how relieved I was to be with her, just to be loved in that special way before going back to the real world. Truly wonderful writing.

6/22/2006 7:10 AM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Scott, it sounds like you had a wonderful grandma. But then again, I think most grandmas are like that, no?

Catherine, sorry. It is indeed, or was, I guess, the first day of summer here, June 21. The kids actually got out about three weeks ago. Think how lucky you are to get snow, though. It never gets below forty here in the winter.

6/22/2006 8:25 AM  

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