The sights and smells of summer always bring back memories of childhood. I’m not sure why, but summer is much more nostalgic for me than other times of year. Christmas, Thanksgiving, the first snowfall, raking leaves, flowers blooming in the spring — none of them bring back my memories as much as summer does.
The smell of freshly cut grass is a strong reminder of summertime. It would be a weekday evening, or a Saturday afternoon, and the whir of mowers would fill my ears. Even after a long day at work, Dad still had the energy to mow at least half an acre of grass with his push mower. Sometimes, Mom would help, even though I’m sure a full day of housework and caring for us kids was plenty to wear her out.
After the chore was finished, Mom and Dad would relax on the lawn swing, he with a can of cold Coors and she with a plastic tumbler of ice water. My sisters and I would sit on the grass or in lawn chairs, or hang upside down from the crosspieces of the metal A-frame on which the swing hung. Sometimes, Dad would yell “Go!” for us girls to start our race, either down to the garden and back, or the trepidatious around-the-house race, which included the requirement of crossing the gravel driveway on bare feet.
Some summer evenings included a softball game in the front yard, or a soccer match (large trees served as goal posts). Sometimes there would be a gymnastics show, with each of us girls showing off our cartwheels and round-offs. Occasionally, there’d be a very competitive game of Horse around the basketball goal. The outdoor experience always seemed to end with the catching and releasing of as many fireflies as we could see.
Eventually, we’d all head inside, take our baths one by one, and put on our pajamas. There was always a baseball game on television, which Dad would listen to while he read the day’s newspaper. Mom would be at her sewing, perhaps making me a new skirt or repairing a pair of Dad’s work pants. I’d have my nose in a book until the croaking of the frogs on the patio caught my attention, and then I’d lie on my stomach, chin in my hands, watching them hop toward the huge windows in an attempt to catch the flies that were attracted to the light from our family room.
The night would end as I knelt to say my prayers, and then slid in between clean sheets that had been dried outside on the line. A deep breath, and I’d be off to sleep, thankful that the next day would allow me to play and read and spend lots of time with my family again.