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There’s More Summer Living

At the end of May, my 11-year-old Grand wrote ‘Summer Schedule’ in big letters on her family’s laundry room chalkboard. Louise had erased her family’s plan of sport practices, music lessons, and dance classes, and she wrote three short sentences.

Stay in bed to your heart’s content.

Swim to Mom’s content.

And read to your brain’s content.

Every time I’ve seen Louise’s schedule I’ve hummed two songs that I first heard as a child. Summertime and In the Good Old Summertime. We weren’t a singing family, but I learned a few lines from Summertime that I’d sing and Dad whistled.

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’
So hush, little baby, don’t you cry.

It’s the first line that stuck in my head. This lullaby was written in 1935 for Porgy and Bess, a play about troubled people in Charleston who played hard, fell in love, and for whom life wasn’t easy. I didn’t know that story when I was young; I just liked that the livin’ was easy.

I remember only part of the beginning verse, about holding hands, from In the Good Old Summertime. We didn’t sing it as it was written in 1902 and recorded by many artists through the years, up to 1965 by Nat King Cole.

In the good old summertime
In the good old summertime
Strolling through a shady lane
With your baby mine
You hold her hand and she holds yours
And that’s a very good sign
That she’s your tootsey-wootsey

In the good, old summertime.

Mom and Dad sang, or actually chanted, a version that went something like, “I’ll hold your hand and you hold mine and that’s a very good sign. That we’re having fun in the good, ole summertime.” Or sometimes we’d dine in the good ole summertime. Or we wondered what time it was in the good old summertime.

So now that school bells are ringing what happens to Louise’s Summer Schedule? Stay in bed, swim, read. Even though the summer season includes August and most of September, when school begins, summer seems to end. Like many children, my Grand isn’t ready for a school schedule to squelch summer time. And I’m not either.

There’s still a lot of summer living. There are long days for walks in the woods, along a stream, and downtown to the ice cream store. There’s time for more backyard playing and cookouts. More fresh homegrown yellow squash to fry, more juicy red tomatoes to slice, more green beans to snap, more watermelon to slurp. More lake sunsets and boat rides. More front porch rocking.

Although Louise and her siblings are back in school, her Summer Schedule is still on the wall. Her mom said, “I just can’t give it up.”  Who wants to give up good old summertime when the living is easy? Not me. Nor my Grands. Nor their mother.

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Summertime…..A Good Visitor

I’m not finished with summer.  I want more warm days to play in the swimming pool.  “Watch me, Gran!”  my oldest Grand says.  He runs the length of the diving board and jumps into deep water.  “Did you see me?”  he says as soon as his mouth breaks the water’s surface.  Of course.  I applaud and promise to watch as he dives underwater to pick up a toy that lies on the bottom of the pool, four feet deep.

“Swing me around, Gran.  Really fast,” says my five-year old Grand.  She adjusts her goggles, twists the water wings on her arms, and tightens her closed mouth.  I hold her hands and rotate in a circle, around and around and around.  When I say I’m dizzy, she says, “I’m not.  I’ll throw the ball and let’s see who gets it first.”  She dog paddles and holds the floating ball high in the air.  “Did you know I can swim really good on my back?” I watch as she lies on top of the water and kicks across the pool.

“Gran, hold me.  I don’t want to get my face wet.”  My three-year-old Grand locks her legs around my waist and her arms around my neck.  As I walk into water deep enough to reach her chest, she tightens her grip.  I remind her that earlier in the summer, she put her face in the water and blew bubbles.  “I don’t want to.  You can,” she says as she buries her face in my shoulder because her big brother and sister splash water close to us.

It’s not just fun in the pool that I don’t want to end.  I’m not ready to give up late afternoon pontoon boat rides and sunsets at Center Hill Lake.  And I’ll miss my smallest bird friends.  A hummingbird feeder hangs outside my kitchen window, but now it’s time to take it down and encourage the hummers to head south.  I haven’t eaten all the locally grown watermelon and cantaloupe and yellow squash I want, and I need at least one more mess of fresh green beans.

I like hosta plants with green leaves, not wilted yellow and brown leaves.  My knockout roses are knocked out for this growing season, and the blooms of my red impatience flowers are drooping on the end of long thin stems.  I like long days with sunrise at 5:30 a.m. and sunset at 8:00 p.m.  Plus, I’m not ready to give up comfortable summer clothes – shorts, tee shirts, and flip-flops.

The backyard deck is my favorite summertime room.  It’s where I listen to the songs of night creatures and greet the day with my first cup of coffee and eat lunch with my Grands and read in the late afternoon and cook on the grill.

Just like a good guest, summer comes for a visit.  Then leaves while I’m still having fun and promises to come back.  I’ll be ready.