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Finding the Wonder of Summer

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Do you remember summers as a kid? I mean, the smells, the sounds, the feel, the deep in your bones feel, of summer when you were about eight? Did I ever have a powerful moment this morning that transported me back almost instantly to Blackwell, Oklahoma where I spent some of my childhood.

I was walking my precious pooch this morning. If you haven’t heard, Texas has been in an unprecedented heat wave and drought. So it was drenchingly hot, and the grass, bushes and trees are as brown and crunchy as if it were end of September rather than end of July. Cooper and I walked through the nearby park which has a city pool just for little kiddos. Coop immediately began slooowwwly stalking a squirrel as we walked past. The pool was closed but suddenly the smell of chlorine and water and heat slammed my nose. Suddenly I could experience in every cell of my body the hot summers of my youth.

That lazy, deliciously monotonous, nothing to do kind of feeling of waking up on an already hot summer morning. The cicadas’ incessant, droning sound already buzzing in the thick summer air. Moving slowly, trying unsuccessfully not to break a sweat. Sitting idly, spinning all kinds of daydreams in the shade while picking at what was left of the grass. Unhurriedly pedaling our bikes all over town, to Western Auto to dream over the bikes in the display, to Ben Franklin to buy some Sixlets, Bit O’ Honeys, or Black Cows.

Watching and annoying the occasional horny toad (alas, disappeared now it would seem). Splashing and screaming wildly in the overly chlorinated, cloudy water at the pool, the smell of cooking copper-toned bodies wafting through the steaming air. Stopping at Ellis’s Igloo for one of their incredibly sweet, fizzy coke slushes. Reading with red, burning eyes in my steamy, shady room with the windows open and the fan merely rearranging the hot, heavy air. The leaves of the trees whispering faintly in the breeze outside. 

Going out after supper to ride bikes a little more before throwing our smelly, sweaty kid bodies down in someone’s yard as the dusk settled in. Breathlessly, watching the fireflies appearing one by one in the dimness, like fairies magically coming to life. Avoiding our mother’s yells for as long as possible before glumly heading home past the street light on the corner. Taking a quick, cool bath before turning back the sheets and reading some more.

Then, deep, untroubled, refreshing sleep.

These past few weeks, I have been wanting to take a day or two off just to put myself back in that summertime. A time before adult pressures, before the endless wants of our consumerist lives, when just riding my gold Western Auto bike with the banana seat made me feel rich. When capturing fireflies in jars to figure out, with little success, the secret of their greeny-gold luminosity, was all-absorbing. 

 How can I recapture that childlike wonder, the wonder of summer?


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