Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

V: Summer Days
















I've always loved summer! Here it is mid June and I don't have to go back to work til August! I love to putter around the house and garden, try new recipes, go the Farmer's Market, etc. Eldest daughter is expecting her baby daughter very soon, so I am taking granddaughter to horseback riding camp this week! I would have loved the opportunity to attend a camp like that! "C" and I would play outdoors and get so dirty that the sweat and dirt would accumulate and make grimy rings in the creases of our necks--we called them "sweat beads"! I love my memories of summer growing up in the South!




"C" and I are old enough- ahem- yes, I'm afraid we are are old enough to remember the days before air conditioning! We played outdoors from sunrise to sundown--even after sundown some days and we had no neighborhood pool to go to cool off! Of course, with no air conditioning in our homes we were somewhat acclimated to the heat. We spent many afternoons running through the sprinkler attached to the garden hose. If you looked just right, you'd see a rainbow through the sun's reflection on the sprinkling water. On days when there were afternoon showers, we'd splash barefoot through the running water in the gutters. We welcomed rain those days! It offered a brief respite from the heat. Going barefoot was the highlight of the beginning of summer for me. I begged as soon as the warm days of May came, but my mother stood firm--no wearing shorts, going barefoot, or playing in the sprinkler until the first day of June!



Here is an old photo of my little toddler sister and I enjoying a tea party in our backyard on a summer day! I rememberwhen "C"'s dad built that wooden fence between our homes.


We played in the lawn sprinkler on really hot days and waited in great anticipation for the tinkling bell of the popsickle man's truck! We'd run to our moms for a nickle or dime to buy the frozen treat. You could choose from flavors of lime, root beer, cherry or orange, but my favorite flavor was blue moon--and it stained your lips and tongue blue for hours! During the hottest part of the day, we would go in to watch our favorite tv programs of westerns or cartoons.



Days were carefree with lots of time for a child to just be. We played on the swing set in my backyard while my mother tended her bed of lilliput zinnias or hung out clothes on the line. Our mothers often hung out their wash to dry at the same time, visiting while we kids played under their watchful eye. That is another subject "C" and I discussed recently. We felt safe in our little neighborhood. It really was a village in the sense that parents looked out for each other's family. One day my dad found "C"'s little brother wandering around in his diaper a few streets away and brought him home. We kids were kept in tow by parents who did use corporal punishment to keep us in line. "C"'s mom had her infamous fly swatter and my mom picked a switch off the nandina bush in our front yard if I didn't obey! We kids didn't get away with anything! Life wasn't perfect--our parents weren't perfect, but we somehow ended up being "raised right"!

In this photo my mom and sister are in the middle of our backyard. "C"'s house is behind them.


















Today's children are so much more harried and pressured. Overly scheduled, many kids have never known what a lazy, carefree summer can be like--time to use your imagination, read, play in the sprinkler and lay on a quilt on the grass, imagining all sorts of shapes in the cloud formations. Some days "C" and I would lie on a quilt on the hill between our yards and point out clouds that looked like a rabbit or a bear. Once we saw a profile in the clouds that looked like Abe Lincoln, and we imagined many other wondrous things. I can remember us speculating on what lay beyond the blue summer sky - the heavens. Yes, even young children consider these profound mysteries! One afternoon as we sat on the curb by the mailboxes at the street's edge, eating our popsickles, "C" shared a few licks with her beloved black cocker spaniel, Hobo! When I pointed out that a dog's mouth was nasty, she insisted that her love for Hobo made it perfectly fine to let him have a taste!

This is my favorite photo of a typical summer day enjoying my sweet cat, Tom. We always had a litter of kittens--this was before people even thought of spaying or neutering pets!
Tom Cat and Me


So, despite the sometimes miserable heat, I love almost everything about summer. To enjoy the abundance of sunshine, flowers, rainbows, and new kittens. The smell of luscious ripe peaches, strawberries, watermelon. I even love the pungent, earthy odor of the tomato plant, and the heady fragrance of the mimosa and gardenia blossoms. I like the hum of the bumblebee, and the whirrr of the lawnmower, and the smell of freshly mowed grass. And last, but not least, the taste of all those wonderful fruits, berries and melons. The mint that grew in our garden that we put in our sweet iced tea will always remind me of summer meals, and the savory flavor of crisp fried okra. Okra needs a hot climate to flourish, so it only grows in the South! Some folks don't like the slimy texture of boiled okra, but fried okra is never slimy! If you've never tried this distinctively southern delicacy here's a simple recipe:


1 lb. fresh okra (or 1 lb. frozen, diced in a pinch). Okra is fuzzy and can make your hands itch, so I put it in a colander and wash it quickly with cold water. Pat gently with a paper towel and then slice it in 1/2 inch slices, discarding the pod end.

In a bowl, pour enough yellow cornmeal (not mix), seasoned with salt and pepper to taste and dredge the damp okra slices in the cornmeal with a large spoon. While you do this step, you can have about 1/4-1/2 inch oil heating in a cast iron skillet--I suppose any skillet would do--but we always used our heavy black cast iron!

When the oil is sufficiently hot, fry the okra til crispy and golden brown. Drain on a paper towel covered platter. Delicious!

Only a couple of things I don't care for in summer! Sweating and chiggers! Oh yes, and wasp stings. I was stung on 4 different occasions last summer!!!

So what do you like best and least about summer? I'd love to hear!

14 comments:

Zuzana said...

Lovely post! I am right there with you, I LOVE LOVE LOVE summer endlessly. Unfortunately I live in a part of the world where summers are short and elusive. Once in a while we get warm days, but they are few and far between.
I love the recollections about your childhood and I loved all the pictures, what a cutie you were.;)
As I spend most of my childhood in the continental Europe, in the communist bloc, I too have similar recollection of much more carefree days with hot summer days and no technology. I hate to say it as it makes me sound old; bu times WERE BETTER then.;)
I hope your summer will be great, I wish I was off work for months too.;)
xoxo

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Well, Hobo needed popsicle, too! Also, remember how much longer our summer breaks from school were? We were out 12 weeks!! Amazing how young your mother looks in that picture! C

Ayak said...

Oh I have wonderful memories of summer in my childhood, when we were so safe. We could go off for a whole day with a packed lunch without a care in the world. Children today are not so fortunate. Although I have to say that in Turkey, its much like it was 50 years ago in the UK. Children here are safe enough to enjoy freedom, knowing that neighbours will look out for ALL children.
Thanks for the okra recipe. I've been hoping to find one that isn't slimy!

Anita said...

Hi V! Thanks for sharing the photo's with us, I just love the black and white ones, they seem to have an are or something about them. I remember our childhood doing much the same thing. I will always remember the quote of most parents back in those days....."outside and play!". And that we did. Kind regards, Anita.

Happyone :-) said...

We must be the same age because your summers sound just like mine did, only I lived across the street from the town pool!

Vickie said...

Loved this post - you took me back today to my childhood. We must be about the same age cuz I remember all that stuff. Only other thing I could add is that we had lightning bugs at night and we'd all go get jelly or pickle jars from our moms and run around in circles catching 'em. We'd even catch honey bees in jars. That was fun. Also, we'd round up horny toads, frogs and lizards and keep those for a few days and then let 'em go. I don't see many lightning bugs or horny toads these days, or even honey bees.

I always thought I was born into the wrong century. I loved those days when I was a kid. We stayed outside all day long, too, and we didn't have air condition til I was older. Thanks for this trip down memory lane! (oh, we called ours "granny beads")

celaine53f@comcast.net said...

AKA Celaine: Loved your post. Summers really were super fun even through the heat in those days. My granddaughters have no idea how to entertain themselves...But these days, the best part of summer is when its over and the worst is those stinkin chiggers! Dropped my facebook after two weeks. Made me feel weird. Hope you all are well!

Noni at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

V: that brought back LOTS of memories! And, I love summer even now! Thank you for all the wonderful reminders and the beautiful photos!

Vee said...

So enjoyed reading this post. I hadn't realized that you and C grew up right next door. Either that or I'd already forgotten. I agree so much with children needing summers to unwind. I'm such an advocate of NOT lengthening the school year. Children need time to explore and be lazy and read and run through the sprinkler...all those summer joys. Hope that you have a lovely summer!

Vickie said...

Hey V - me again -
Daddy's plum tree is a Methley Plum. That's what I have, too. Mine only had a few plums on it tho - I've only had it for two years - it's about as high as my head. The plums are not huge, but they taste great. You can pop a whole in your mouth and spit out the seed. They cook down really nice, too! yes, I definitely think you need a plum tree!!! But you gotta hang pie pans or CD's in it when the plums come on, cuz the crows love 'em, too!!! Vickie

Debbie said...

I, too, remember the ice cream truck that tinkled down the street every afternoon in my grandmother's neighborhood. We also road in the back of pickups around town on summer nights enjoying the coolness of the evenings...city pool and swimming lessons...real tent camping in Colorado mountains... Wow...so many great summer memories...

carla said...

We didn't have air conditioning until I was about 11. Before that, we had a window fan (my husband who was born in Texas calls it a swamp cooler). It made the living room almost tolerable in the severe Oklahoma summer heat. My brother and sister and I made pallets on the floor under the fan to sleep at night. Then in the morning we'd wake up really cold because the temperature dropped. My memories of childhood sound very similar to yours. My neighborhood friends and I played dolls and dress-up and jacks and hop scotch and paper dolls.

Such wonderful memories. Thanks for a lovely post.

kath001 said...

I wonder if I am not a fan of summers now, because they were so long and torturous when I was a kid. We lived in a neighborhood populated by retirees. I was the only kid for blocks and blocks.

The best time was the two-week trips to my grandma's, because my aunt lived right next door and had eleven kids...several near my age. We would climb the apple tree and eat green apples. Make mud pies. Run whooping around the dark yards collecting lightning bugs in mason jars...then take them inside to the bathroom, turn out the lights and shake them into the toilet bowl and flush...so pretty! I feel a lot of guilt over the decrease in lightning bug numbers. :)

Jody Blue said...

I'm a northern girl who likes winter more than summer so I'd say the heat and humidity are my least favorite, but then how does the corn grow. I do love the county fair, the fairgrounds are at the end of our property.
We couldn't go barefoot until we took a dandelion as proof that is was warm enough.

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