But not in the summer.
I grew up with almost magical summers.I mean, truly perfect Halmark worthy summers. At least that’s how they appeared from my youthful perspective.
This is the first year that I’ve noticed that summer has changed.
Growing up, my summers consisted of waking up around 10, and then preceding to do one of two things. Most days I, along with my sister and my cousin (who lived next door) would spend the day outside, only to be seen when it was dark. We would grab our bikes and explore the area, biking for hours. We found abandoned barns, little streams, woods, everything. In reality, our parents would not have been pleased with our explorations, but none the less, we had fun.
We spent weeks having on going water gun fights with the guys who lived across the field, racing around the block on our scooters, creating entire communities out of sidewalk chalk, and building forts in the woods behind our houses. We freely ran from the house barefoot, hair pulled back in a messy pony tail, and never cared about getting dirty or getting hurt.
Every July we would go down to the TN/KY line to buy fireworks, the good kind, and on the fourth we would watch with amazement as the sky exploded. We lit bottle rockets as we pretended to be Harry Potter, and threw those little poppers at our cats. We drank lemonade and ran around in the grass catching lightning bugs while the cicadas and mosquitos buzzed around us.
Life was easy, there was no stress, nothing to worry about. Money didn’t matter, and getting a job wasn’t even on the radar. The prospect of school always seemed like it was forever away, and next thing we knew, we were complaining that summer went by to fast.
I could spend the whole day laying in the thick grass watching the clouds go by. I could just lay there with my cat listening to the birds and cars with the sweet smell of honeysuckle and fresh mint from the garden in the air. There’s something magical about that sound. The cacophony of birds, the crescendo and decrescendo of bugs, the rustling of leaves in the wind, far off children playing, the occasional plane in the sky, and all of this gently accompanied by the steady beat kept by the sound of swooshing cars, my cat purring and my increasingly deepening breath.
I miss this. Summers as they once were, I mean. But they will never be like that, and it’s something I can accept. But even kids these days don’t enjoy summers like that. They just sit inside and play video games all day. It’s “too hot” or “too humid” or they’re stuck inside because whoever they’re with doesn’t want them running around alone, and they don’t want to go outside with them. It’s sad that they won’t grow up with memories like mine. Of actually burning ants with a magnifying glass, running through corn fields, riding your bike down an old country road as you watch the steam rise off the road from a recent summer storm. They won’t know how terrible it is to mistake a crab apple for the real thing, or how pretty the sunset can be from the roof of your house.
But I’m still from Kentucky. I still run around barefoot when possible. (and always seem to forget how hot pavement can get in the sun) I complain about the humidity, cursing it as my hair once again gets pulled into its customary ponytail. I still manage to spend some evenings at the Drive-in, and am a frequent face at the local Frosty Freeze. (they will always make the best milkshakes I’ve ever had) I still go to the same family owned place on the line every July, and I still catch the occasional fire fly. I pick fresh cherries straight from the tree, and help my sister make pies and homemade ice cream.
I still get to run around the yard as I once did, now with my nephews.
But it’s not the same. It never will be.