These Summer Days
The first day of summer always reminds me of the carefree summers I had between the ages of thirteen and sixteen, those days when I was truly off. After that, even in high school, I always worked during summers (and all year) so it was never truly the same again. I cannot think of them without thinking of the song “I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis:
Those days of warm rains come rushing back to me
Miles of windless summer night air
Secret moments shared in the heat of the afternoon
Every class and generation have their summer songs, but this will always be the one that I remember.
I will always feel so fortunate that my carefree summers happened before cell phones and social media. I distinctly remember long days of sun tanned skin and the smell of chlorine, the stain of some sort of recently eaten snack on my fingers or clothes, and the laughter of my best friends. Nowhere in it is there a memory of a phone or a computer, and all of those old pictures were taken on a film camera, developed at the end of summer so we could relive those memories again and again.
Kids back then were so fortunate in that way. I’m not sure if the world truly was any safer back then, but it felt safer. With the late northern Canadian sunsets in the summertime, I was allowed out to play in the parks and the soccer fields late into the evening and for long hours at a time, and then I'd come home and write poetry or gossip with my friends as the sun set over the field across the street.
When my friends wanted me, they picked up the phone and called, and not just to talk but to say, “Can you come out to play?” We learned to roller blade and do “tricks” off of the steps, we climbed every tree in the neighborhood and made forts. We had picnics sometimes, and heaven knows we couldn’t set an appropriate fire. We either ate cold hot dogs or nearly burned the entire neighborhood down.
The start of summer always began with our ritual of the “burning of the homework” in the ravine – a trait I must have inherited from my father, because 40 years before I did it, he nearly burned down the ravine. You knew summer had begun when a tower of smoke billowed high over the area, and you’d hear our girlish delight at being free once again. One time an alarmed neighbor came running toward us and we had intended to deny everything, but my sheepish “we put it out” is still remembered and mocked in our circle of friends!
Twenty years later, I’d gladly burn my current homework all over again!