By Cathy Leestma
Back when I was a kid, school never started before Labor Day. That meant the entire month of August, I was assured of long play days without worrying about the routine of getting back into school. I liked school, but I loved summer! Maybe that’s your story also. Cicadas singing, wasps abounding, minnows scattering from small bare hands, a coke and a candy bar from Mr. Wilson’s store and fireflies that would magically light up the fields of night. The golden August moon hung low as if dripping beads of sweat.
Sunday’s always meant dinner at grandma’s after church, afternoon naps on Chenille bedspreads which caused a short case of face measles when you awoke and GE stand fans blowing in the hot, humid magnolia scented air. My grandma was a wonderful cook and she made it all, fabulous greasy spaghetti, succulent fried chicken and ‘melt in your mouth’ peach cobbler in the world’s smallest kitchen.
In the summer, grandma lived in a two bedroom, one bath cottage on Lake Keystone north of Tampa. It had two porches. The front facing porch provided sleeping spaces and overlooked a 400′ span of grass down to the lake. There was a window from the back porch into the bedroom where my sister and I shared a double bed. The back porch also served as the gathering place before bed where memories and gossip were revisited. I learned to listen through that open window. I also learned to love the sound of rocking chairs on wooden floors, of families laughing and the sad sting of missing those who had died.
The back porch had a large old wooden table with a collection of chairs. Another GE stand fan was positioned right behind grandma at the head of the country table. It kept some of the gnats at bay. After complaining one time that there were gnats in my food, my Uncle Tommy assured me that they wouldn’t eat much.
And so it went. Summer was simple. Family, good food, irritating heat and bug bites. Being thankful. Stiff bed linens that had dried outdoors and smelled like a spring rain. Ice cream with Hershey’s chocolate sauce from a can. All good stuff and my way of saying, Don’t let summer go too soon. Make a few more memories. School will start soon enough.