Growing up in Texas, summer was hot, hot, hot—but not in a good way like in the song. Despite the heat, summer’s unique features still made it special for me:
1) No homework! For three months (give or take), I didn’t have to worry about whether I got my report done or vocabulary words memorized. I could watch Walt Disney’s show without fretting about a Monday-morning deadline.
2) Sleeping late. This is a corollary to “no homework” and “no school.” Getting up when desired remains one of my greatest secret luxuries.
3) Summer camp. Starting in the seventh grade, I spent at least a week living in primitive conditions (i.e., no air conditioning!). Each year, I renewed acquaintances and enjoyed another of my secret loves–the yeast rolls served at lunch and dinner. I’ve never found their equal.
4) Choir trips. Our church had a very active hand-bell choir program and each year, we attended a regional or national festival. Before the national events, we toured between Dallas and the festival city, stopping at different churches to play a concert and then spend the night with a host family before heading to the next stop. I visited several sites I would’ve never seen otherwise—the Grand Canyon, the spring Ponce de Leon believed was the fountain of youth, and a replica of the first submarine developed during the Civil War.
5) Swimming. My mother never learned to swim and considered it imperative for her children to learn. Our local public pool offered lessons and while I’ll never be a gold-medalist, I can make to shore if the boat doesn’t sink too far away.
6) Cold watermelon. Is there anything sweeter or more refreshing when it’s 110° in the shade? (That is, besides air conditioning?)
7) Fresh peaches. We had peach trees in our backyard and summer meant having peaches on everything—your cereal in the morning, in homemade ice cream, in cobbler. To this day, I can’t eat the ones from the store because they don’t taste like the ripe ones picked straight off a tree.
8) Family vacations. My parents always struggled with money, but we could still pile in the car and drive north into Oklahoma or Kansas and visit relatives.
9) Daytime TV. In the days before cable, the shows were limited, but the afternoon included an old movie with “Dialing for Dollars” during the breaks. They never called our house, but I would have been ready with the amount if they had!
10) Six Flags over Texas. The original park was built outside Dallas, and we saved all year to buy tickets for the whole family. I can’t catch a whiff of creosote without being transported back to standing in line to ride the roller coaster.
Reviewing this list makes me realize how simple some of my memories of summer were—like peaches and watermelon—but how much they were a part of the simple joys I experienced each summer. What about you? What says “summer” to you?
In a desperate attempt to save her daughter’s life, an unemployed microbiologist falls into the Russian underworld and a plan to export a deadly biological weapon.
“[A] tantalizing premise that toys with the most basic of emotions.” –Steve Berry
A collection of three award-winning literary short stories exploring the impact of love.
“A fine and engaging story.” –Phil Hey, editor, Briar Cliff Review