I chuckle when I see a post challenge that says “pick your favourite”. I can’t pick favourites of anything. It’s not that I don’t want to commit. It’s that to have one moment outshine another somehow dims the other memories. I want to embrace them all. A bouquet of favourites, if you will. I am like the teacher who tells her whole class, “I don’t have any favourites, you are all amazing in your own way.” And I mean it.
So on to the topic: my favourite summer childhood memories. I love the juiciness and the all-over warm happy feeling as I wander down memory lane, stopping at each one to take in the sights, the sounds, the tastes and the feels of each one. Lazily sticking around and momentarily re-living the events. In all honesty, I could sit in this bliss all day.
I fondly remember Canada’s Wonderland. The huge amusement park with its loud music playing. Sounds of kids and adults screeching from the plunges and twists and turns of the rollercoaster, the heat of the sun on your face and your stomach growling from the smell of the deep-fried funnel cakes. Each year my dad would get those tickets from work. We’d get up uber early in the morning. The cooler would be packed and we’d be lined up at the gates before the rides opened to make sure we were the first to the rides of our choice. There was one such time that stands out. We were eating Cheesies. Oh yeah, those cheesy puffs of chemical composition that would turn your fingers and tongue that unnatural shade of orange. Somehow or other (that part is foggy), we obtained contraband Cheesies. My sister, who was only a toddler at the time, was fussing and would surely rat us out, so what did we do? We shoved her full of that cheesy goodness. To the point that when we arrived at the park gates she proceeded to vomit all over herself. The fluorescent orange destroyed her pink t-shirt and she scored a new t-shirt from the gift shop.
Interestingly though, with the exception of the “Cheesie incident” what I remember the most about those trips was not the rides and the thrills and the chaos of the amusement park, but rather the lunch. We’d go back out into the parking lot, grab the huge cooler and sit at a picnic table under the trees. The food was wrapped individually in aluminum foil. This was always a novelty to me because school lunches were always packed in those little plastic sandwich bags. There was a deliberateness in the way you had to unwrap your aluminum packets to reveal your sandwich, vegetable sticks or even your sliced fruit. We were slow. We were in the moment. It’s funny that that is what I remember.
Other memories I have—a little bit foggier because they date back further—were of summers that included visiting my aunt and uncle on their farm. Or spending time at a mobile home on a teeny lake surrounded by trees in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. I remember the pace being slow and magical. Hours on end spent picking berries or vegetables from the garden. Or digging my shovel into the wet sand under the cool shade of the trees. Those days felt like they went on forever. Even after having spent what felt like an eternity outside, I remember always being sad to see the day end.
The furthest back memory I have, and perhaps the most soothing to my heart, was evenings outside. My mom would tend to what I remember being acres and acres of garden. I am told it was a couple of meters wide and a meter deep but in my recollection, it went on forever. So much so that if you ventured too far in you’d get lost and never find your way back to the house. It’s amusing to sit in that little one’s memory of it. I loved the evening coolness. The sun was still gorgeous but giving us a break by muting its rays. Mom would water that garden with purpose. I can still picture her in her clogs, flowy sundresses and oversized glasses that covered her whole petite face in the style that was very much “in” at that time. Running around in bare feet in that cool grass I felt invincible. Inevitably that quiet moment would turn into sheer glee as the hose turned from the garden to us kids. Soaked, squealing and laughing til we made no sound.
I can feel it. If I close my eyes I can go back to those moments. And what I realize is that the thing that all of these memories have in common for me is not that they were extravagant and expensive. Quite the contrary, they were simple, slow, deliberate and connected me to nature.
It makes perfect sense to me that now as a mom the things I want to be doing with the kids is hiking, early morning walks, picnicking in our yard, old-school running through the sprinkler in the yard under the trees instead of the chaos of the out in the open splash pads on those hot days. I want to reconnect to that little wild child who was just happy being. Don’t get me wrong, if an all-inclusive trip to a Caribbean island were to fall in my lap I’d gladly take it. I am just happy in the moment knowing that this feeling of bliss I had in my favourite summer memories can be captured in the simple moments. Even better is knowing that I have plenty of opportunities to create new juicy moments and memories.
What’s your favourite summer memory? Let me pour my cup of coffee and let’s chat about it under the shade of the pergola, with the breeze rustling through the trees and the goldfinches serenading us.