Of all the seasons, there is something bittersweet about the end of summer. Of course, summer is far from over with the potential of more scorching days in August.
But from the perspective of a kid, it comes to an end when school bells ring. I really just dated myself because I don’t think they’ve put an actual bell in a school in 30 years.
Fall is the prelude to winter and gives us a gradual cool down to the biting cold. Spring, on the other hand, is the emergence of the life cycle from the grey cold days of winter.
But summer was always the time that we had those extra long days to be carefree and playful.
We weren’t big vacation people. Sadly, my dad was sick when I was a kid. Summer was often the time he was feeling his best and he felt a need to do things around the house that might have gone neglected when he was ill.
Because of that, I’m not a good vacation person. Two or three days away from home and I’m ready to go back.
I do admire those who have great summer traditions of renting the same beach house and bringing the entire family at the same time each year. I don’t have grandchildren yet, but I can only imagine how much fun it would be to watch them splashing in the seaside waves.
I enjoyed summer camp, particularly 4-H camp. I went one year to what was then Camp Chatham, near Savannah. My fondest memory was dancing with a cute girl from somewhere else in Georgia. We snuggled close on the dance floor as a newly emerging singer named Karen Carpenter sang “Rainy Days and Mondays.” Afterward, she gave me my first kiss. Camp was over the next day and she left before I could get her name and address.
That will always be my summer mystery.
Our dreams were bigger in summer. We were always looking for ways to make our bikes faster or better ways to tie a little red wagon to the back of it for hauling important stuff. We were always building a fort, hut or tree house.
One year, we were convinced that we could dig a tunnel between the houses of friends. Never mind that these friends lived across paved roads, water and sewer lines, we were determined that nothing would stand in our way.
We probably dug about 4 feet in each direction with an old Army shovel. The tunnel was never completed, but the dream is still etched in my mind.
I grew up in the time when landing on the moon became a reality and being an astronaut was about the coolest job that existed. One of my favorite pictures of my late brother, Dixon, has him dressed in a full cowboy outfit and wearing a plastic space helmet. In our summer dreams, we could be a cowboy, a soldier, an astronaut or a pirate … all in a single day before supper.
The other part of summer I love is the harvest of summer fruits and vegetables. There is nothing better than a fresh peach or tomato. There is something special about slicing into a watermelon that you know was grown in the soil of Georgia.
In a few days, these will all be memories. But we can tuck them away in the corner of our mind and enjoy them, even in the dead of winter.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.