The awesomeness of summer is here.
I love this time of year that overloads the senses, transporting you back to childhood.
Remember slurping rapidly melting ice cream on the hottest, most skin-frying days of your life? Or gulping down freshly sliced watermelon? Did you also munch, typewriter style, on cob after cob of fresh sweet corn?
Can’t you hear the ice cream truck slowly driving down the street, children’s tunes blaring on the loudspeaker, inviting you to break open your piggy bank for that last 50 cents?
Don’t you remember the adrenaline of running as fast as you could to catch up to the truck before it left your street? Like the school bus, the intensity of its sound told your ears how much time you had left. All pains were worth it for that orange push-up popsicle.
The cascading trails of glittery fireworks and immutable cacophony of cicadas are burned into my memory bank.
I also remember the excitement of staying up all night to catch a glimpse of meteor showers through a telescope in a rural pitch-black night sky.
There were loads of laughter from neighborhood kids on trampolines sans safety nets, and skidding on back yard Slip’n’Slides that weren’t yet rated dangerous. There were forbidden four-wheeler rides along country roadsides. And bike rides that lasted for hours. Roller skate tutorials on your driveway and go-kart circles around the house. Scorching vinyl pick-up truck seats that seared your skin. You winced in pain every time your skin ripped away from the seat.
There were heat indices so intense that factory-glued rearview mirrors fell off inside parked vehicles. Humidity so thick with gnats, you could barely breathe. And yet you still played outside!
There were garden-hose sprinklers to run through, and skinny legs eternally covered in bleeding mosquito bites and welts. And bare feet and fingers constantly stuck by painful cockleburs.
Everybody learned the hard way — at least once — about poison ivy. Botany and biology class was in session every time you stepped outside. So was obedience class: everybody in the group got disciplined when they thought it would be funny to smash purple berry juice on their hands to look like blood and run out of the woods screaming like banshees. (No one ever tried that prank on their parents again).
There were also wild blackberries that were safe to eat and the faint sweet perfume of banana cream-colored honeysuckle blossoms.
The outdoors was a limitless world to explore without helicopter parents around.
There were bee stings and thorns and the gentle hum of ravenous hummingbirds zipping past you to the hanging sweet nectar globe by a rosebush.
If all that were not enough, there were tangy, slathered pork ribs and back yard barbecued chicken. Impromptu guitar jams and sing-alongs. Board games and picnics at the lake, and sunburns that peeled like shed snake skins.
Families made their own fun – they didn’t pay for it at chic entertainment centers. A thousand trips to indoor kiddie paradises won’t ever compare to the sights, sounds, tastes, smells and touch of tangible summer outside your own back door.
But don’t live in the past! Create new memories! There’s plenty of time to make homemade peach ice cream and pick your own blueberries. Make some homemade cakes with homemade icing. Squeeze your own lemonade. Have you ever made sun tea? Or actually tried to fry an egg on the pavement to see if it really was hot enough to do so? Pitch a tent and go back yard camping with your kids. Get over the germs and make those mud pies again. Shove your toes in the cool dirt of grandpa’s freshly plowed fields.
Savor life’s simple joys. These are the memories that will sustain you when life is cut short. Instead of mourning the end of an era, you can rejoice as you re-play a life well-involved and well-lived.
It’s up to you what kinds of memories you want your life filled with: the insignificant loneliness of a thousand finger scrolls and images on an artificial touchscreen – or the warming enrichment of quality time spent with loved ones.