Summer has always been my favorite season. As a teenager you could find me in a hammock reading a book under the shade of a maple tree. A light breeze would occasionally rustle the leaves above me, and since my reading material generally consisted of the mysteries of Agatha Christie or the suspense novels of Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney, and Helen MacInness, my imagination led me to hear the sound of a swishing taffeta skirt as a lady with unknown motives walked past. I loved all those authors and read most of their books voraciously. When I reread them now, I can see how the rules of writing have changed. Point of view is all over the place, but that doesn't bother me. A good story is a good story. I suppose fifty years from today the rules will change again rendering our novels old-fashioned.
When I wasn't reading, I'd be laying out in the sun on a chaise lounge lawn chair in my swim suit, catching a few rays, with lemon juice in my hair and a concoction of baby oil and iodine smeared all over my body. Sunscreen? Never heard of it in those days. Our sole purpose was to get as tan as possible. Of course, now my generation is paying for it dearly with wrinkles and skin cancers, but at the time it seemed worth doing. Once I was motorized--ah, the joys of a drivers license--I'd head out to the local swimming pool to hang with friends. Those were the days.
Yes, summer invites us to be lazy and care-free. I never minded the heat or the humidity--you know the kind--that steamy dampness that smacks you in the face like a wet towel the minute you step outside. On really hot, humid days you could see the heavy air hazing the sky, turning it almost a milky white. That was a signal late afternoon thunderstorms might arrive.
The weather also seemed to bring out the craziness in us. In the mid-sixties we didn't think about the dangers kids face now. Our local swimming pool was on a flood plain on the White River in Carmel, Indiana. Towards the river there were cabins on stilts for rent. To the best of my knowledge, they were rarely occupied. I recall one day, my friend and I slipped away from the pool and made our way to one of those cabins. It was locked, but we climbed the stairs and sat on the front porch out of sight from the rest of the group to smoke a cigarette and feel very daring to have done so. Thinking back on it, just because it was locked, didn't mean there wasn't someone inside. We were far enough away from the screaming and the horseplay around the pool, that if we did find ourselves in danger, our screams would never have been heard. At the time, however, such a thought never entered our heads. I don't suppose that kind of innocence exists anymore.
The last time I was back in my hometown, I drove past that swimming pool. It was gone as were the cabins. I guess the owners got tired of scraping mud off the bottom of the pool every spring during the flood season. I imagine the cabins became rotted and either fell down or were demolished, just like the pool was filled in. Now, Northern Beach is simply a park for family picnics and games. Sad to see memories erased, but that's the way of it. Things change and time marches on. We can't change that.
Summer is in full swing. I now have my own pool where I float lazily on those hazy days, my hair protected by a hat and my body with sunscreen. I don't do crazy things anymore. Maybe I should, but I don't. Common sense can be a bitch. Same with maturity. Oh well, that doesn't stop me from remembering and smiling at those memories.
I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the summer. Climb into a hammock with a good book and listen to the taffeta rustling of the leaves overhead. Think back to the good, old days of summers past and enjoy.
See you next month.