Too Soon Finished

Finally summer, when young parents push strollers through mellow evenings; laughter drifts from fenced backyards; and rainbows of green enhance our lives. Under a summer sun, I’m less obsessed by how well I sleep or household tasks that need my attention. I stand taller, breathe easier and open more readily to spontaneity and stray dogs.

Recently, I encountered a friend at the post office: a lovely lady who exceeds me in wisdom, grace and years. “Summer has arrived,” she said, “I love this time of year because it makes me feel young again.”

“How did you spend your summers when you were young?” I asked, responding to her happy smile.

“Helped with chores around our place, mostly, but when I had time, I explored: studied anthills, tried to catch butterflies, searched the night sky for falling stars. Nature fascinated me. I paid attention to even the smallest things in my world.”

Later, I thought about her words and recalled my excitement when the bus pulled away from the elementary school and my friends and I chanted: “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.” School and winter were vanquished; summer would never end; and the rituals of childhood could begin.

To test our stamina, my siblings and I tried to walk barefoot in the heat of the day down our dirt lane and along the gravel road it met without skittering or complaining. We timed one another to see who was fastest riding Bob’s bike to the mailbox and back. Pumping furiously, I sometimes misjudged a rut, crashed and then proudly displayed scraped elbows and knees.

We dove or belly-flopped into the chlorine-heavy water of Arrowhead Pool and swam as far underwater as we could, carefully marking one another’s progress. Sitting atop our horse, we took pride in not holding onto each other as the oldest guided it along country roads framed by crops.

On July 4th, we played with cap guns because we liked the smell of burned caps and ate lunch in Grandma Hall’s backyard, saving the heart of our slice of watermelon to eat last and ridiculing cousins who gnawed their final bite from the rind.

We held dandelions under one another’s chins to see who liked butter and split the bottom of their stems with our tongues, sucking them until they curled like a slinky. When my friends visited, we plucked petals from daisies to discover if he loved us or loved us not and made dolls from hollyhock blossoms that we threw at Bob when he wouldn’t leave us alone.

As one summer day of my childhood melted into another, I didn’t realize how quickly my freedom to experience and explore would be replaced by the jobs and responsibilities of adulthood.

I didn’t know that when I grew old, the months of June, July, and August would begin to spin by like carousel horses running wild. Now my summers race by so fast I worry I won’t have time to savor them — to store away the smell of roses, the feel of dancing breezes, the sight of goldfinches jostling on a bird feeder and the shouts of children riding their bicycles pell-mell to the pool.

Like my lovely friend, I find summer glorious. I only wish it could slow to the pace it kept when I was young.

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84 thoughts on “Too Soon Finished

  1. Very lovely to read, evocative of an idyllic summer.

    I’m kind of a weirdo. I didn’t like summer much as a kid and it’s not my favorite now. It always made me feel pressured to “have fun,” but I wasn’t sure what that was. I didn’t like the heat, either. I played sports, of course, ran in the forest, rode my bike went swimming — those things were great, but once the weather cooled down and school started, I could breathe again. I don’t know why. Now, however, I understand that there are othere people like me who flourish in winter’s short days and cold weather.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I, too, Martha enjoy “breathable weather”…..The hot, humid summers in upstate NY were difficult for me. I now live in the PNW and love it. I find that people are either lovers of the heat or lovers of cooler weather. I have friends and relatives who think I’m crazy. I love working outside in a light sweatshirt and long pants…..easier for me to breathe. ;>)

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    • Several of my readers share your preference for colder weather, and I, too, enjoy it. But my truth is that I like all the seasons, with spring and fall having a slight edge. Also, you need to know I felt pressured to have fun and wasn’t sure what that was the first time I hung out in a bar!

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  2. What a wonderful description of a simple summer childhood. I wonder how many of today’s kids can relate to it. Our summers are hot and humid ( and getting hotter and longer) so they can drag on rather than race Spring and autumn are my favourite seasons these days. But the endless summers of childhood, spent at the beach swimming, surfing, playing in the sandhills(dunes) and climbing the rocky headlands remain happy memories.

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    • Your childhood summers sound wonderful, Sally, and something I’ve experienced only as an adult. I, too, prefer spring and autumn, but both summer and winter come in a close second because of what they offer. Really, I enjoy all four seasons.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh yes. Such lovely memories. I remember the year after I retired from school being so pleased that I could stretch my summer into September. But that doesn’t quite make up for the speed with which time travels…

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  4. I remember finding pollywogs in our local arroyo when we had summer rains. I remember building forts and having water balloon wars. I remember playing store with my neighbor friends. I remember putting on plays for parents in Jane’s back yard. Thank you for helping me remember these lovely memories.

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  5. I love summer, too. And it always flew by. Then, last July, I decided to go to the beach every Sunday. And garden as often as I could. And take midnight walks with the dog and my son. Choosing to do activities that could only be done in the warm months actually slowed time down. I could look back at each week and say, “We ate outside. We went to the beach. We walked late at night. We took the dog to the lake for a swim. I went kayaking. I swam in the Long Island Sound.” It really worked because the days were different from each other instead of passing in a blur of sameness.

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  6. What a beautifully written evocative post. Growing up in a tropical country my summers were very different to yours. I prefer the cool/colder weather – that energises me, but I suppose if I lived in the Northern hemisphere with your severe winters, I might feel very differently!

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    • I, too, like cool/colder weather, but living is so much easier in summer, where I live and after months of snow I enjoy the green growth, the flowers, my toes feeling free in sandals. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Alison.

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    • I, too, find the hottest days difficult, thought I don’t think that was true when I was a child. But where I live, the evenings and early mornings are always temperate, and the nights can be chilly.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Janet, with this story you’ve hit another home run.

    Cap guns — I hadn’t thought of them in years.

    One of my fave parts of summer are the fruits and vegetables– I love peaches, blueberries, corn, etc.

    See you —
    Neil

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    • I’m glad you liked it, Neil. Whenever I think of the 4th of July, I remember how fired caps smelled and sparklers. As a child and to this day, summer’s fruits and vegetables are my favorite fare as well.

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  8. How interesting. I got this message “ this site uses cookies.” Something something (don’t remember exactly what it said to do) “to accept”. That was a first.

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  9. I have many of the same memories. One of the greatest joys was being outside till after eight at night, till we heard our mothers calling us to come in. We lived in the world of the imagination, then. How priceless!

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    • How well I remember my mother’s voice calling us in when we needed to get ready for bed, and I too think the wonder of a childhood summer was the world of imagination it allowed. So good to hear from you.

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  10. Oh my, the days of a childhood summer. The neighborhood baseball games on the empty lot, the catching of lightning bugs, the sounds and smells of summer. Oh how quickly they passed. I prefer the spring to early fall, watching the grass start to grow, the flower buds starting to open, the birds making their nests. I love being outside and smelling the fresh air. I don’t like our winters as everyone is closed up inside. You don’t see your neighbors for 4 months. Give me spring to early fall, open windows, and a big front porch. What a great post! Thanks for the memories!

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    • And thank you for your detailed, interesting comment, Nancee. I never caught lightening bugs as a child and my first experience with them as an adult was magical. You described the happenings and my feelings about spring to early fall perfectly. The world feels more open during those months.

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  11. Ah, summer…recently reunited with a dear friend I shared our best adult summer,32 years ago. She of nannies and a maid, mansion in “The Uplands” I of farm and worn out frame house- Our summers were the beach, cousins who drank “Freshie” where we had “Kool Aid”- a treat. Hers were trips to Europe and Music Camp. We ate hot dogs most nights, corn and raw peas from the garden, pop guns, sleeping out on the porch, fearing thunderstorms, she of having to be lady like and clean, us sun and sand burned…wonderful post, Janet I will share with my olde pal.

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  12. This is both beautiful and sad.
    On another note (pun!), Simon and Garfunkel happens to be playing, which often makes me think of you because of a line you wrote some time ago about your enjoyment of the symphony only diminished by your preference for Simon and Garfunkel. It was such a superb sentence.

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    • I often made that same argument, Kay. And my classroom experience told me that within one to three weeks most students were where they should have been; and I knew how to help those who weren’t. Of course, that was fifty-five years ago!

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  13. I heartily agree that time now passes as quickly as a merry-go-round out of control. My trees new green leaves seem to turn gold while I’m still setting up my yard and deck for Spring. I love your reader Patsy Porco’s idea to fill the summer days with activities that can only be done in the Summer. Right now, starting today, that’s what I’m doing. To begin, Wednesday will be leave the house and have a picnic day….Tahoe, Mt.Rose, or a nearby park.
    As always, Janet, your wonderful writing brings back forgotten memories.

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    • I’m not surprised that we responded the same way to Patsy’s comment. It makes such sense. After I read her comment, instead of watching TV after dinner, I sat in the backyard with a glass of wine and binoculars to watch and enjoy the birds on our feeders and in our bird bath until it grew too dark to do so. I, too, am going to plan similar experiences every week. I think I’ll borrow your idea and a picnic will be next. I’m also thinking about doing some stargazing.

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    • Though our activities may differ, most of those who commented had similar memories of long, happy summer days. Your comments reminded me of exploring, another favorite pastime of my siblings and me, even if we only “explored” an old abandoned barn or a clump of trees in a neighbor’s field.

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      • I’ve long counted growing up in the country as one of the best things about my life. To each his own, I suppose; but I’d prefer an abandoned house to a city drain any day. We used to make a weekly excursion to a spooky old house a few fields over, hoping to see the weeping lady ghost who resided there.

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  14. Thanks for the memories. Fir me it was swimming lessons, camping trips, toughening up our feet for barefoot walks on asphalt, sleeping with the windows open to the cool night air, and the perception of September being a tiny dot way off in the distance.

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  15. Well, Janet, your blog post brought me summer in the mind. Right now I’m enjoying winter-only things: today “feels like 5 degree C.” I’m lucky because an icy wind brings back a breath of Geneva, where I lived for four years, or even Antarctica.

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    • Funny, just yesterday I was looking out the window at my backyard, which is now a picture of lush green highlighted by flowers, and thinking how it is equally lovely in the winter when snow and wind have sculpted it into an abstract white work of art. I must have felt your breath of icy wind!

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  16. I love your reminiscences of summer, Janet.
    This summer I’m making an effort to recapture the magic of the season by taking a little time each day to sit on our deck savoring the sights and sounds of the natural world. (While the real world keeps calling from inside!)

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  17. You have transported me to a sun drenched wooden pier, dragonflies buzzing about, my predominant activity being squeezing my eyes tight over & over, to create sparkly lights brighter than the sun. This is one of my most cherished memories of a summer spent in the Dordogne years ago.

    Thank you for sharing a patchwork of your treasured moments: for allowing me to taste the dandelions, feel the watermelon juice trickle down my chin, smell the heady chlorine of the pool, hear the glee & cheers as you raced down the dirt roads, to see just a little into the joys of your growing up.

    Here’s to slowing it all down just a little more, so that you are able to continue to savour your summer bliss, Janet!

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    • What a wonderful comment, Ju-Lyn. I think you are a careful and perceptive reader. I love the visual of you on a pier, surrounded by dragonflies, squeezing your eyes shut to create sparkly lights, an activity I, too, used to enjoy — but, sadly never on a pier!

      Liked by 1 person

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