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!
Mid-sized city, Somewhere in the South!, United States
We are "C" and "V," two baby-boomers who have been through thick and thin--50+ years of best-friend togetherness.
C is a divorce attorney, separated from her husband of 40(!) years--at age 59 he ran off with a thirty-year-old-never-married-mother-of-two and has now fathered another--and we're not even divorced! A very hard time for C.
C has one grown son--no daughter-in-law or grandchildren yet! (Drat!)
V works in a community based instruction program in a public school, helping special-needs students learn life skills. Mother of three, grandmother of five!
For 50+ years we've laughed together, cried together, and we've learned a lot! We love, love, love writing and want to share with you! Please come share, too!
Check out our posts under the label "Stickhorses" for more, but suffice it to say that these cowgirls started their lives together riding stick horses. Stick horses have come to symbolize the power of dreams and imagination for C and V--besides, we love cowgirl spirit!
You and the mother of the man who done you wrong are going to raise chickens together? I love it. I hope you become international stars in the chicken-raising world, and when you (and his mother and your chickens) are famous, I hope he comes crawling back, pleading with you to take back his poor miserable, not-famous self. You go, girl!
Thank you, thank you, thank you! On to International Chicken Stardom!! C
YET ANOTHER STUPENDOUS COMMENT!
SimplyJoolz (see our blogroll for link) said these kind words about the travails of C:
I love this story -its like a well written novel. I can't wait until the part where C kicks the useless husband between his hanky and his small change pocket! Lol!
It's coming, Joolz! C
PS - thank you all for your comments. They so give me a lift--often just when I need it!
C's SINGLE AGAIN POWER
Below is a list of things I'm learning to do--wish I'd started years earlier! It feels so good to list my "Power Accomplishments" for you, and I'd love to hear about yours!
Replacing the back fireplace refractory panel. Who knew?
Jacking up the front porch with my new, red, hydraulic jack!!
Learning to shoot and getting my Conceal-and-Carry license! (Power rush!!)
Purchasing tires...all by myself!
Buying and installing (!) the lawn tractor battery! Again, not rocket science...
Putting a new end on a ruined looooong extension cord. One prong was missing, and we replaced the plug-in. (Who knew you could do this??) I feel so, well, powerful!
Cleaning Tractor Air Filter
Dealing with fire ants--boy, are those suckers tuff!
Gettin' that utility pole installed.
Ordering gravel (SB 2!)
Replacing hydraulic hoses
Learning about the lawn mower (engine stabilizer!).