I wrote this several years ago, and now today my all-American country-girl granddaughter Maddie hosted her high school graduation party. She was the subject of this writing. And so I share this with you all.
SUMMER ALWAYS COMES along in its own good time, never held to a date marked on the calendar as the start of the summer solstice.This most excellent of seasons was more than welcome when, after a long spell of unseasonable cold, summer's first warm days finally tiptoed into northeast Ohio. Its arrival found me in utter relaxation beside the waters of a country pond.The sun was sliding down toward the west horizon on that perfect afternoon, and a younger generation of my family was resting with me from their hard day's work in yard and garden. I had completed my own small donation to the day---pruning thorny shrubs of roses that had left their battle scars along my arms from wrist to elbow.With the reward of a cool drink in my tired hand, I listened to the birds, watched the lazy waters and thought back to the summers of my girlhood.Few persons of my years forget those days of barefoot freedom. The memories stay with us as if the privilege of those summers of our childhood belonged to us alone and could not be duplicated in any other time and place.Our recollections include the myriad of summer jobs---berry picking, baby sitting, paper routes and such---as well as family chores for which we were responsible.Our homes weren't air-conditioned against the heat of summer nights; our solution to the heat lay in the great outdoors. On such wilting nights, the rules of schedule were set aside; any breeze that blew the clouds across a summer moon was excuse enough for parents to come out to the porches and watch us capture fireflies and play our hide-and-seek.Sometimes with our rooms too warm for rest, we children were allowed to slip out to the porches to sleep where it was only slightly cooler. Our parents would sit with us awhile, then retire inside and leave us with our night-light jars of fireflies. It mattered not how late we summer children jabbered until we finally fell asleep; a school-day morning didn't lurk to hamper us; when we woke, we woke; and that was that.I, a girl with seven brothers and some tomboy tendencies, loved the daytimes of my summers too---hiking through the nearby woods and splashing through the creeks; slapping my bare feet in mud; making echoes in the mysterious cool darkness of the culverts underneath the nearby railroad tracks; climbing trees and sometimes swinging Tarzan-style on a vine in the big old apple tree behind our house; digging foxholes; fishing in the city ponds down in the flats...Getting dirty was okay with me, and okay with my parents too---as long as I was wearing old playclothes and not ruining a better outift.In fact, my mother used to say, "A child needs a bit of dirt to grow on," and she seemed to mean that.IN THE SUMMERY dusk last weekend, as I wandered in my mind through those childhood summers, I wondered: Would a modern girl enjoy such earthy summer hours, or are they too sophisticated now?As I pondered that, I heard a motor sound emerging from the nearby woods, and as I watched, an ATV came out into the open with two well-helmeted young people aboard. They pulled up skillfully beside the patio on which I sat and pulled the hemets from their heads.Their ATV was slathered generously with the mud of woodland trails, and they were just as muddy as their vehicle, head to foot. Without their helmets, I could see two joyful, wind-tanned, teenage country girls, smiling broadly through the mud.I knew these girls; I had seen them dressed in finer garb, as beautiful and girl-y and sophisticated as any girls their age could be. I smiled to see that they could also look like this and feel good about it.The two clasped hands and jumped with squeals into the chilly waters of the pond. Presto! the dirt was gone; no damage done. (Perhaps my mom was right).Maybe summer hasn't really changed that much, despite our modern times. Apparently, it's still a season of exuberance and joy and freedom, and dirt is still okay---even for such sweet and pretty teenage girls.ENJOY THE SUMMERS of your life; they seem to fade away so soon.(Your blogger, an older Rose of Summer with a bit of tomboy still remaining, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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