“Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy”

Last month I told you of my husband’s idea to have me paint unfettered two hours each morning. I’ve been faithful to that schedule and I’m lovin’ it! Just keeping you posted.

Now to the topic of summertime. I must admit it’s not my favorite season, mainly because of the heat. Many would say fortunately for me, since I live in Wisconsin where summer is very short. I say it too. I can already hear the groans as you read this blog thinking I’m going to ‘dis’ Wisconsin summers and thinking I’m crazy to not-like the heat of this lovely season but hold on a minute and let me ‘splain’. There is a difference between not-liking and disliking. I don’t dislike summer, I just don’t like her heat. It hasn’t always been so.

I was reared in the Ozarks of Southern Missouri where the mountain streams are gravel and sand bottomed making them crystal clear, flowing swiftly into larger rivers also gravel and sand bottomed and clear. That’s the waterways I spent my youth exploring. We lived on the river in summer, in a converted air show snack bus, (a poor man’s RV) and I was outside as much as ten hours a day same as most kids. I thought it was a great life.

In the Ozarks of my youth, we had four distinct seasons. Summer was four months long with hot, hazy days and clear, crisp, cool nights. We had our share of ticks and although we had mosquitoes I don’t remember them being numerous enough to carry off a small animal or child but that was a long time ago and I could be wrong about that part.

I do remember poisonous snakes, bobcats, crawdads that pinched like hell, chiggers that would dig down deep and make you crazy with itch till you thought you’d scream, poison ivy, compulsory blackberry picking and sunburns. Even so, I didn’t start not-liking summer weather until I was a grownup.

Though what I’m about to say about myself has always been true, it seems even more pertinent now. My hair is pale, my skin is thin, my eyes are light blue and I can’t open them fully in a sun filled room much less out-of-doors, it’s a rods and cones thing. I don’t like bugs, I don’t like being hot because I don’t like sweating and I don’t like being outside. I only go out there if I must, which is to say not very often. I can do as I wish now I’m an adult.

Many of you will say I miss so much but consider this. Since I’ve become a not-liking-summer-weather adult, I haven’t been sunburned once, consequently I haven’t had a melanoma and probably never will. I’ve never had a tick bite, never had a chigger bite, never had poison ivy, and the list goes on.

That said, I love it that you all love summer heat and no one loves summer more than a Wisconsinite or a Minnesotan. Folk love to eat outside, fish, ski and go to outdoor functions, and I applaud your tenacity when it comes to the battle against the mosquitoes, I only wish I could be as cool as you are. But that’s not how I roll, so forgive me for saying it but I’m looking forward to Autumn so I can go outside again.

Here’s a poem I wrote about my childhood summertime life in the Ozarks.


At Water’s Edge

The rusty truck careens down the final hill.
Favorite swimming hole greets us with clean,
watery fragrance sensed through open mouths.

“Sit down; sit down!,” our mother yells
out the truck window, her arms making
a downward motion; sign language resembling
prehistoric water fowl landing.

We think, rightly, that this sparkling river
must be seen from the best seats
dearly paid for with bugs in our hair.

So, we stand and bounce like stones
on the flatbed truck, our rebellion bound
to incur her wrath. We are careless.

It’s an old ceremony accompanied by a
consequential slap; a ritual most ancient.
Rites received, we are waterborne.

Gliding, splashing, bluff-diving, arms flapping,
we jig dance precision steps in the icy
current.

I look up to see my siblings, whose protests
belie their blue lips, banished to sun on the
riverbank lest hypothermia rob our mother.

Meanwhile, where hidden creatures of the
eerie deep keep their secrets, I am satisfied
to poke at rocks, quietly hunting for crawdad,
alone at water’s edge.

 

 

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