images & words
Ethereal fragments of childhood summers endure in our earliest recollections, impervious to edits in time or space
Mom and me
Haines Falls, NY
We waited impatiently for the school year to end and for another blistering hot summer to saunter in. Longed for yet another year to evaporate and for the nothingness of summer to begin...
Counted down with paper chains and tally marks, made Chinese jump ropes from rubber bands, played tag and statues in overgrown fields as dandelion dust turned our chins to gold. Daydreamed of summertime on lunch lines in concrete-block hallways painted pale green.
As summer seeped in, we pushed pedals on Schwinns bedecked with shiny streamers, shook accordion-pleated paper fans at reticent air, awaited breezes under trees, gulped giant sips of water from the hose, then turned the hose on our toes.
We burned our feet on hot concrete as we tediously tightened metal skates, skate keys dangling from colorful crisscrossed lanyards made in school, then gleefully wheeled down breezy shady streets, arms outstretched, faces flushed, hair drenched with sweat.
Immobilized by the heat we craved the cool; timidly taunted oscillating spinning sprinklers, floated for hours in small pools, while showing off fingertips shriveled and white, restlessly flipped pillows from one side to the other over and over all night long.
“C’mon in, we’re air-cooled inside!” bragged signs at local theaters hawking brief relief. Boisterous unruly junior high schoolers dodged stern flashlight-carrying-movie-theater-matrons, charged with maintaining order and banishing badly behaved kids to the back rows, as double features droned on and on and melting vanilla bon bons leaked onto sagging red velvet seats.
Bored by the redundancy of thirty-one nothing-to-do August days, we flopped on grass and found shapes in clouds, plucked purple-capped sweet tasting weeds, played hot potato with dirty hands, chalked hopscotch squares and searched for small stones.
We watched steam rise from hot sidewalks cooled by rain, sat on stoops and slung hoola-hoops, cartwheeled in circles and played kick the can.
Dazed by the never-ending heat, we chased the humidity and each other down the street playing endless rounds of Mother may I? red light, green light, and tag you're it!
We watched ice melt, counted our coins, waited for customers at lemonade stands. Aching for sweet confections to cool our sunburned lips, we waited forever for the ice cream man to bring toasted almonds and drippy double sticks. And then we waited some more for something to do...
Sweltering summer days stuttered and stalled. So we waited for the heat to abate, for the sun to go down, for the streetlights to go on, for the fireflies and the big moths to surround the porch light, for the time to pass.
Then we counted red cars and long hot days and swatted big mosquitoes with our sweaty hands while we waited impatiently for the slowly shuffling-summer days to end and for school to begin again…