It’s that time of year. The time where thoughts of summer take over many corners of the brain. What to do, when to do, where to do dot many to do lists. If children are in the mix, even more to dos must be considered. Brochures, flyers, catalogs from the local park district, various sports programs, academic outlets, day and sleep away camps and others hoping to get your attention, registration and fees begin to crowd the mailboxes, litter counter-tops and desks.
In my children’s experiences most of the summer-time activities revolved around summer school, reading and sports camps. It took some doing to coordinate activities for the entire summer for a boy and a girl with a 3 ½ age gap, wide ranging interests and limited transportation options.
My own childhood summers were mostly un-constructed affairs. My brothers and I were more often than not, left to our own devices. For me that meant mostly keeping to myself, reading. Some summers particularly, pre break-up, found us entrenched in our local park’s day camp program. We were out-fitted with logo t-shirts, shorts, sneakers and duffle bags. Along with many neighborhood kids we walked to the park to play, learn to swim (not me, mind you), sing songs, make stuff out of popsicle sticks, rag strips, clay and pipe cleaners. There were also field trips.
We went to the Aquarium, Planetarium, amusement parks, zoos and more. The highlight of any trip being the outcry of the kid who discovered her previously frozen can soda had burst and soaked their bologna sandwich through and through. The pain went deep because soda was a treat given only on trip days.
I was spared the trauma of soaked bologna because I never got soda, previously frozen or otherwise. I had allergies and milk products followed me everywhere.
Every weekday, on my way to and from work, I pass the park where I spent a couple of summers in the sixties and remember. I remember a couple of friends sharing the experience of the crafts and games. I remember spending hours in happy association with kids who were not my brothers or cousins. I remember the day we moved away and realizing that I would never see my friends or participate in any of the day camp activities again.
Riding past the park has put the thoughts of summer in my head, especially as the grass greens, the trees bud and the geese squawk. I think about the songs dedicated to and depicting the madness of the season, the hot fun times to be had. I think about what my son and daughter might be doing this summer, what memories will be constructed.
Of course I think about what summer will hold for me, what songs will tell my summer story. I think about how much I'm looking forward to another season of the sun.