Lazy Hazy Days of Summer
I spent the last few days taking a sweet trip down memory lane to the lazy, hazy days of summer as a young child. I think of the tree lined street I grew up on, where the branches at the tops of the trees bowed low over the street, forming an arch that provided shade on hot summer mornings. Shortly after school let out for the summer, our tiny shaded yard with its bit of grass offered a place to sit and enjoy birthday cake with my friends on the block, though it was not really a place to play.
As a young girl of six or seven, the bright sunshine beckoned or my best friend’s playhouse in her back yard. Her older sister sometimes joined us and we spent mornings using our imagination, pretending the small wood structure turned into a lakeside cottage, which none of us had ever been to, or our palace as we waited for Prince Charming to arrive. Yet the only ones who showed up were our annoying little brothers who fell into the category of spies rather than princes.
One day we heard them outside the closed door of the playhouse. They hooted, hollered, and made all sorts of crashing, banging noises. Our pleas for them to go play someplace else met with laughter and more noise until we heard one of the moms call, “kids, lunchtime.”
We waited until we heard our brother’s voices fade into the distance until we opened the door, not trusting what prank their four year old minds might have cooked up. I stepped out first since I had to run the length of five houses to make it home to mom’s home cooked meal. My bare foot connected with broken glass. I cried in pain as I watched blood drip on to the shards of a broken jar and the cement pad beneath it. My friend’s mom came to the rescue, bound up my foot, swept up the glass the boys had smashed and I hobbled home for mom’s tender loving care and an angry word or two with my brother.
A few days of limping, a more watchful eye of where my bare foot stepped, and I once again roamed our block or traveled with my brother and our friends to the park a couple of blocks away. As children we felt completely safe to be walking those few blocks for the neighbours all knew us, and we knew them. The supervisors at the park welcomed us, and we enjoyed cooling off in the splash pool, or daring each other to climb a little higher on the monkey bars. We competed to see who could pump that swing higher, wondering if someone could actually make it loop over the top and hang on as the world turned upside down.
A few times during the course of those wonderful summer days, my folks gave me a shiny nickel or five pennies, and allowed me to walk to the corner store to buy myself a treat. Regular size chocolate bars or small toffee cost five cents. Sometimes I would get an extra penny and be able to buy a Popsicle but that usually meant trying to break it exactly along the half way mark and giving one half to my brother.
On weekends my dad did not have to go to work and that meant family time. Mom cleaned the house from the third story down to the main floor. My job, even as a small child, was to help dust down the wooden stairs. Bump, bump, bump. I think my backside likely did as much dusting as the rag in my hand, but I had some fun. Even more fun came when I got to the dining room to do my job of dusting the base of the huge table. I loved climbing under the table cloth, pretending it was my fort, or castle, or secret hide-away. Dusting took forever in my mother’s eyes. I look at that table now sitting in my home, and remember the fun it could be to dust it, as a six year old, while a long table cloth was draped over top.
Sunday, after church, we visited family or my parent’s friends out in the country. What an adventure it could be for a city girl to visit the farms of my dad’s childhood friends. I liked time with grandparents even more. Many Sunday evenings we would go for a drive with my Grannie, especially after grandpa died. We’d drive along the river that ran through our city, checking out the mansions and their gardens.
The final stop would be the Dairy Queen with its walk up windows and long line ups for an ice cream cone. Many times when we dropped my grandmother off, Dad pulled a little overnight bag from the trunk and I hopped out with my grandmother for a few days of special time – just the two of us. I loved those visits.
Some Sundays we drove the twenty miles to my other grandparents’ home where my brother and I had use of a huge yard in which to run and play, a sandbox to build castles and roads, or a lawn swing we could sit on. Sometimes I got to stay for an extended visit, and I would play with the neighbour children who also happened to be my mom’s cousin’s kids.
Time had no meaning in those days of play and friendship. It did not matter that we had few toys, or that my brother and I shared one tricycle and wagon, because our best friends on the block also did not have any more. Yet we had freedom to run and play together, to visit the neighbourhood park all by ourselves, and know we were loved and safe.
Rainy days gave me time to curl up with a book, colour with my friends in one of our homes, or play with our dolls. I do not remember boredom or a lack of time to use our imaginations. They truly were, at least in my memory, the lazy, hazy days of summer full of simple pleasures.
Written by: Carol Harrison; Carol’s Corner