Friday, June 26, 2020

Summer's Arrival




Summer. The mere word evokes sunshine and freedom. This strange school year of 2020 ended on Wednesday with a socially distanced ceremony and cap toss. It was complicated, but the students were pleased. Reports are finished and my dining room has been returned to its normal look minus the books and desk of the past few months. Today I took on the unenviable task of cleaning out the Home Ec room refrigerator - we had done it very quickly at the beginning of the pandemic - but there were still many items that went into the garbage today, followed by a good scrubbing.


As a child, I took swimming lessons in the summer. My younger sister and brother and I rode our bicycles 3.5 kilometres to the park where took lessons. If the lessons were early, oh how cold that water felt, and what courage it took to jump in. On hot days (and there were many) we stayed at the park with a packed lunch and spent the afternoons alternately swimming and relaxing in the shade before pedaling home and getting hot and sweaty again. Often our friends joined us on their bikes.

Summer days were meant for adventure. Up and down the hills we rode our bicycles, free as the wind. If we found a newly asphalted street we felt like we'd hit the jackpot. It was so smooth and quiet, unlike the rougher, older streets. Other days we biked to the edge of our subdivision where railway tracks snaked along the hills. Crossing the tracks we left our bikes on a wide shoulder and hiked into the dry sagebrush-covered hills, up narrow canyons where tiny creeks trickled. We clambered up steep paths that now make me nervous to think about. How fearless we were. 


Sometimes my mother would make a picnic dinner - deviled eggs, cold cuts, cottage cheese, pickles, and bread - and all five of us would pile into the car with our swimsuits and towels. Riverside Park had huge trees and cool green grass. There was a pool, but we often swam in the cold, fast-running Thompson river. How pleased I was when I could swim all the way to the dock that defined the swimming area. Shivering and panting I caught my breath on the dock before braving the cold and current to swim back to shore. 


On the hottest of days I hunkered down in the relatively cool basement, reading for hours and hours. My parents purchased a set of encyclopedias, black with red bands. Along with them came a set of children's books with various coloured volumes - poetry, mythology, fairy tales and more. Then there were The Adventures of the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, The Wizard of Oz, Little Women, and the Reader's Digest. At the end of Grade 3 our teacher, Mrs. Simard, had us count up the number of A's in our language arts workbooks and gave a prize to the student with the most. That was me, and the book was Eight Cousins, by Louisa May Alcott. I read and re-read the story. I finally discarded the book just a few years ago as it fell into pieces. 

Summer time seemed to both slow down and speed up. In my memory there was immense freedom, and time to think, explore, and play. As a teacher, summer still holds much of the same magic - a variety of routine, more freedom to choose what to do, and time to play and create. Just now my mind is rather blank, and I like that. It's time for a bit of a break. There are nebulous plans, but nothing too urgent. Yet I know that summer days are fleeting and it's best to not wait too long to do what I want to do. 

Summer days - how do you feel about them? 

33 comments:

  1. Loved your post, Lorrie! Chuckled at hitting the jackpot when you found newly asphalted streets with your bikes. My younger sister and I would chance riding our bike on the paved Alberta highway that ran right past our farm. It was smooth riding. While one road, the other kept a watch on the traffic (which was little in those days)....until the day came when Mom and Dad came home early and caught us riding on the highway. Then and there we were told in no uncertain terms riding bike in the highway was OFF LIMITS.

    I enjoyed hearing snippets of your childhood summer holidays. They are so similar yet different.

    I trust your summer will be wonderful after all those busy months. Enjoy the weekend kicking back. Maybe by next week, you'll be ready to think about some summer plans.

    Brenda xox

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  2. We had Sun Free Swimming Classes where many children learned basic swimming skills. We picked strawberries and blueberries for extra money. Will you be returning to school in the fall? I wrote a poem to my parents requesting a set of encyclopaedia (not the supermarket kind) because there was nothing I loved more than reading. My mum had an ancient Underwood typewriter that I used to write stories. I think that summer was a whole different kind of learning experience.

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  3. What a lovely thought....the long summer holidays. Your childhood days sound idyllic. I remember too that freedom and daredevil adventures. Is it the same for children today? I don’t think so. Sunday was always my favourite first day of the holiday. The thought of no school tomorrow. Enjoy. B x

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  4. I remember those childhoos days of immense freedom, Lorrie. Days were long and almost always sunny. Cycles and little rowing boats took up most of our days, with picnics too. Lovely times to look back on.

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  5. BEautiful post
    Childhood end of school meant out the door. The first thing we did was play school. lol

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  6. I love summer! Your childhood sounds a lot like mine. We lived on a lake and I swam and fished every day. We hike in the woods that surrounded our house, rode our bikes a mile and a half on a dirt road to the little local store to buy candy with our 25 cents allowance.

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  7. Dear Lorrie,
    What an idyllic childhood you had.

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  8. Thanks for evoking so many summer memories for me.

    I had most of those books you mentioned. I treasure my mother's 1928 edition of Little Women. I have a silk ribbon tied around it to hold it together.

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  9. I loved to read the memories of your childhood summers, mine are similar. We lived on a river and all children of the neighbourhood spent their entire days swimming there, throughout the summer. It was so fun and me and my brother came home with our lips blue and shivering way past the dining hours. The summers of childhood are in my memory always warm and sunny. Just like this week in Finland. I have enjoyed this lovely weather, been out and felt very happy. Life is good.

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  10. Enjoy your extra hours of freedom this summer. They are all to short, usually.

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  11. I really enjoyed reading this. I was imagining my own childhood summer days, like yours filled with adventures and bike rides. They seemed to stretch out forever and were always warm. Such freedom.

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  12. My own childhood summer days were ones of great freedom and adventure. These days I still look for an element of adventure and fun before once again hunkering down for those cooler months.

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  13. I very much enjoyed reading this. Lovely.
    Happy Summer vacation to you and yours for a few weeks anyway. I know teachers start back early, and the new school year will probably be complicated. We are living in different times. Everyone is being careful but haven't we had enough crisis overload?
    When I was a kid, summer was my favorite. Also days at the pool, walking home, maybe two miles arriving dry and hot.
    I rarely rode my bike. I did love riding though, and did that much more as a bigger kid.
    I also took some art classes. We always took a family trip to Holland to see our relatives
    Enjoy this wonderful summer

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  14. When I was a teen I would go stay with my grandparents who lived on a acre in Northern California. We swam in the irrigation canals. I remember diving in and swimming against the current to get to the train trestle upstream. It was a lot of work but gave us a place to sit while the cool water kept moving on to it's crop watering destination. - Margy

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  15. School's out for the summer. Yeah!

    My childhood summer days were also pretty unstructured. I do hitting the garage sales on Saturdays with my parents. Maybe that's how my love of treasure hunting began.

    Enjoy your well-deserved vacation. I'm hoping to take a day off every week and have a shorter work week during the summer. Our employer gave us this Thursday and Friday off so our Canada Day holiday stretches over 5 days!

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  16. Summer is my favorite season! I love the weather and have wonderful memories of growing up in the South. Riding bikes, afternoons at the pool...and we went to the river pretty often too. We mixed up concoctions to use as suntan oil. Oh my! Laying out in the sun and reading! Enjoy your week! (I still miss old encyclopedias. You could look up one thing and end of with a volume in your lap for hours!)

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  17. Oh to return to those childhood summer days - bikes, beaches, bathing along with picnics, tomato sandwiches (we're having them today as cooking hot meals is getting tiring!), ice cream cones, lemonade, and longer evenings without mosquitoes (that was in England of course).
    Glad you made it through the school year - here's hoping things will improve for the next one Lorrie.
    Mary x

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  18. Such a lovely post and I always enjoy seeing your photographs.

    I have lots of summer memories of picnics, games, swimming and being out and about enjoying family and friends summer fun times.
    All these years on we still do our best to get out and about … of course in 2020 Covid 19 restrictions have to be observed!
    Enjoy the week ahead.

    All the best Jan

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  19. You have some very special summer memories and write so well! I remember the freedom of playing, riding bikes etc more so from before I was ten - after which we moved to Canada and lived in the city. My parents were very busy working, trying to get establishe in a new country. One way or another us kids would get to Abbotsford and pick berries. The highlight would be a week of summer camp and maybe family camp. Whatever it held and still holds, there is a sense of freedom. Enjoy!

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  20. Lorrie, I loved summer as a kid. We lived in a rural area so we had free range of the yard and woods. Mom had a big garden so there was always cleaning rows, picking raspberries and wild berries, and reading. I am an introvert so I read a lot! I remember Nancy Drew from the school library. I hope you have a great summer and a wonderful week! Sylvia D.

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  21. I enjoyed your trip down memory lane. The story I've been told is that when I was 18-months-old my mother put me in the pool (with a protective wheel) and let me 'swim.' I've loved swimming ever since. Summer isn't my favorite time of year, it is too hot and humid for my liking and everything is brown because we don't get summer rain. But it is the most nostalgic season, with the best childhood memories.
    Amalia
    xo

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  22. Oh, also my summer memories are much like yours - feeling exhilaratingly free, biking, swimming, reading... My parents had (and still have, I wouldn't dream of throwing it away) a set of encyclopaedias, the covers are grey but the spine is black with some red "stripes". Could you please help my English and define "bands" in this context? Are they just a decoration or do they have a function?
    Enjoy your freedom!

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  23. Oh, we were so free and adventurous; poor kids nowadays haven’t half the freedoms we had. Out in the morning, back home in the late afternoon, for dinner. Tired and happy, the summer seemed endless and the possibilities limitless. Summer is still a very special time and I am making good use of my garden.

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  24. Good to read all your summer memories! I enjoyed summer days more in my youth and when I was a school teacher. Hope you have a nice break!

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  25. Oh Lorrie, your post brought back so many memories of my summers growing up! My sister and I also took swimming lessons when we were children, and I used to love them. I think the smell of that chlorine pool was one of my favorite things back then. :D I also remember riding my bicycle a lot, and when I was much younger, the little house we lived in was near a railroad track. Those are fascinating to children, don't you think? When I was a teenager, we got two horses, and those took the place of my bicycle for awhile. Yes, those were good times. It makes me sad to think how much this old world has changed. I never read "Eight Cousins," but "Little Women" was my favorite book for many years.

    Thank you for reminding me of all these wonderful things that I enjoyed and was so blessed to experience in my growing-up years. I know you're glad to be through with this school year, and I hope the summer will be all that you want it to be. Have a great week!

    Hugs,

    Denise

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  26. I clearly remember those 'lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer'...of running barefoot, riding bike everywhere, swimming in the neighbour's pool, DQ ice-cream cones and picking berries. I doesn't exactly feel like summer here today, but I am looking forward to its arrival. Enjoy your downtown!

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  27. Lorrie, your post conjured up so many memories for me as a child! Yes, summer was a time for adventure and because our family moved around so much, it seems every other summer was spent in a new neighbourhood. I met lots of new people but rarely made a close friend because we didn't stay in one place long enough. So my younger brother and I spent most of our adventures together in those days. My father used to take us camping on the North Shore, Stanhope, every summer for a couple of weeks and that is where my love for the beach was first born. I remember when the new pavement was laid and the asphalt was so hot under our feet that we had to make a run for it across the road from the camp grounds and into the water to cool off. The weeks spent on my grandparents' farm in NB however is where most of my earlier memories come from. There were fields to run in and apple trees to climb. The banks of the Petitcodiac river to play on before the tidal wave came rushing through the river bed. We always had that timed just right! Those were the best days for me. It is where I found my roots. Ah, summer, the best part of the year! Enjoy your summer, Lorrie, and Happy Canada Day, my friend! Hugs

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  28. Lorrie - I also have fond memories of summer as a child. Playing in our creek, catching crayfish. Watching people ride ponies at the farm down the street. The buzz of the bees on the flowers in our garden that I would hear while reading a book, cross-legged in the grass. As an adult, I also love summer. It is short in Montana, compared to the other seasons, so we relish every day we have. Happy Canada Day to you!

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  29. What freedom we had in those days! Unstructured and unsupervised. And yes, so many hours to just read! Enjoy your time off Lorrie!

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  30. You've caused me to run back down Memory Lane too, Lorrie... such were the days of summer, days of freedom to run, play, dream and enjoy the sunshine after the release from school. I remember the ride home on the hot school bus on the last day of school, holding my hard-earned report card in my hand, and looking forward to the delightful days of summertime. Thank you Lorrie... how carefree those days really were! Enjoy your summer freedom :)

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  31. I am joining the commenters above who were plummeted back in time to childhood reading your post! You wrote so beautifully here, Lorrie, and it takes pure talent to make us see it so clearly through your eyes. I was a water baby too and summer was all about swimming--and reading. I could feel the cold water as I read your words. I think I decided back then that it was better to jump in all at once rather than easing in an inch at a time. Pools were wonderful but it is my swims in the mountain lakes of western North Carolina that take me back to being a teenager, swimming out to the dock where all the other girls lay to sunbathe. And then there were the annual trips to Myrtle Beach and the ocean. Your encyclopedia story made me smile too. Ours came with a set of Dickens and I must have read through them a half dozen times in summers after I'd finished my library books. And bicycling everywhere in the neighborhood, never a fearful thought. Mothers just turned their kids loose after breakfast and didn't see them until they returned starved for lunch.

    Somehow I want to carry your thoughts on summer with me as I work around the house on this July day. Surely some of the magic is still to be found if I look hard enough.

    Thank you for this and I hope your summer days bring many gifts,
    Dewena

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  32. I have so many wonderful memories of summer days as a child. I hope my children also have those in their own way. I adore the idea of a picnic dinner.

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