Making the most of a short season
Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,
I can still feel the pinch of the chlorine in bridge of my nose, that familiar smell of swim practice, tee shirt wet around the waist from riding my bike home from summer practice. Mom in the kitchen making toast and oatmeal for me.
Summer was full of possibilities; forts to be built, bike tracks to ride, rafts to build and float to nearby islands on the lake, and long days at the pool from open to close.
As warm weather sets in on us this summer, I’m reminded of simple times. At least for me. Life, and summer, is simple as a child in our country.
I remember watching Chicago Cubs games on TV mid-day before Wrigley Field had lights. Andre Dawson, Ryan Sandberg, Ron Cey. Back when WGN, TBS, the Cubs, and the Braves were all I knew. When Dale Murphy was bigger than life.
Old episodes of Home Run Derby featuring black and white images of Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Micky Mantle. My friends and I would grab our bats and go to a vacant lot, back when there was still open space on the peninsula, and play our own version afterwards.
Organizing my baseball cards. Trading for cards I needed. Admiring my autographed Doc Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, and Dale Murphy cards.
Jumping from docks into the lake.
Giggling while looking at Garbage Pail Kids stickers.
Going to JC Penny with Mom and putting Atari games on layaway.
Mixing giant pixie sticks with a small cup of ice at the pool.
Playing tennis well past dark and then walking home, talking loud, telling stories to my friends. The smell of summer sweat and honeysuckle.
Even earlier in my childhood, walking the country mountain road through Watauga TN from the home my mom grew up in down to the store to buy a Zero candy bar and a Cheerwine or Dr. Enuf. Across the street from old Brick Church that my grandfather built.
My cousin and I would sit on the swings at the school and drink our Cheerwines – before getting the go-carts and minibikes out for a fast turn around the field behind my aunts house. We’d eat wild sour apples that fell from the tree in the backyard. Donald Duck orange juice and oatmeal creme pies.
Play in the basement with thousands of Army men, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid action figures – complete with stage coach. Sunday school versions of Jesus on the wall above our heads, we shot our army men with rubber band guns.
Trips up the mountain to get the world’s greatest, but our little mountain secret, BBQ from Ridgewood.
The narrow road that lead to my grandparents house up on Stony Creek. Papaw’s garden in the backyard. Mamaw’s homemade friend apple pies.
Summer lasted forever. Because I filled its minutes with life. I didn’t worry about it ending, or how I might make the most of it. I just went full blast.
Now, I worry over things I have no control over. I’m anxious just to sit and brood sometimes – let the minutes tick away while I consider things. As if sitting for awhile and gazing hard into the distance might make adulthood more like my childhood summers.
I realized recently that this is your childhood. The tree you climb in the front yard, the ice-cream I make, the trips to the pool and beach, our walks to the creek where you put your feet in, our evening walks past dark to the playground – your cheeks red and your hairline wet from games of tag. Taco Tuesdays. Watermelon cubes. 4th of July at Dr. Hutton’s. The tree house at Nana and Papaw’s house. Sleepovers at Grandma and Grandfather’s house.
A friend said a few days ago that he realized he’s been taking life too seriously. Grown ups are all guilty of that. There are responsibilities to consider, but in the end what we’re left with are the memories – warm starlit evenings – baseball games – loud talk about the day’s adventures – the many tastes of summer. And we’re in the midst of this brief season; summer and life and time moving so fast.
I love you,
Sunday: Ran 8 miles
Monday: Biked 2 hr 45 min
Tuesday: Ran 40 minutes / Swam 1000