Growing up in the south affords you the opportunity to experience a long summer. It typically starts in April and will last well into September, and oftentimes, parts of October.
Yes, Spring and Fall do make it here, but they are so short lived.
When I think of growing up, outside of little memories about Christmas or birthdays, I mostly remember summertime.
I'll be the first to admit, I am not a big fan of the hot weather. I don't mean 80 degrees and sunny hot, I'm talking 100 degrees with 90% humidity hot - sauna hot. That's what most of our days feel like down here, starting in July. However, the memories, especially as a child, sort of drown out the hades-like temperature, and flood my mind with happiness.
For one, I remember swimming pools. I spent a majority of my more formative years living in an apartment complex. Luckily, the neighborhood we lived in had a community pool, lake, volleyball court, and 1/2 a dozen playgrounds. It was a huge co-op community - more set up like condos and townhouses, versus your standard apartment complex.
Each morning I would get up fairly early, choke down some breakfast, grab my towel and head to the pool. I only came home for lunch, and then would pop right back down and swim all day long. I remember sliding down the water slide, playing "Sharks & Minnows," perfecting my serve at volleyball, and sitting by the pool listening to Madonna, Elton John, Prince, and Michael Jackson. We would all beg for 50 cents from our dads for the soda machine. I would consume my Dr. Pepper like it was the second coming. We would spend hours upon hours trying to soak up the sun, and gossip about the cute boys. At night, we would all gather down at the picnic tables and engage in a little hide & go seek through the woods of the complex. Later, we would slip on over to the dock, and hang out until we individually would hear our parents yell our names. That was my the bulk of my summer.
But there were other things I remember:
Camp Martha Johnston
I spent a good bit of time from 1979 - 1985, at Girl Scout Camp each summer. Here I learned how to swim, play tennis, hook a warm and fish with a cane pole, identify most plants, canoe, skate, hike, and a ton of other typical summer activities. I remember mail call- a time when we would gather at the McGee lodge and get "Miss you" cards from our parents, and purchase items from the country store. I remember the cool, sweet taste of Cherry Berries, Astro pops, and Mickey Mouse ice creams. I remember limitless mosquito bites and the smell of Deep Woods Off or Avon's Skin-So-Soft. I remember challenging each other to cross the "monkey bridge," it was a rope bridge that took you from bank to bank over Sweet Water Creek. My claim to fame was that I was the only kid who was able to cross blind-folded and walking backwards. Yeah - I used to be quite the dare devil.
Community Children's Theatre
Though most of my friends were stuck to only hanging out at the pool, I was shipped from camp to camp. Each summer, my sister and I would partake in CCT's summer theater camps. I was spend my morning in dance classes, and improvisation classes, and preparing for our summer theater production. Hours and hours were spent rehearsing with some of middle Georgia's best theater instructors. I perfected my form, improved my voice, and could remember entire dialogues very quickly. I made some wonderful friends, people I still know today, and gained incredible experience that has helped me conduct myself appropriately in the workplace, as well as completely washed away any fear I would have of public speaking.
July 4th in Indiana
My dad was from a little town called Monroe City. We would return to southern Indiana every summer for a little family reunion. I remember corn fields and tons of little blond haired cousins. (The Thurston clan - mostly blond hair and blue eyes.) Playing badminton and softball games. Being asked numerous times to, "Say something in southern." Hilarious.
I also spent an extraordinary amount of time at my Great Grandmother's home on my mom's side. Granny was born in 1901, and was still very traditional in her old age. I was extremely close to her because my mom grew up in her house. My grandparents lived with Granny their entire married life - so needless to say, I was probably closer to them than most of my cousins.
As soon as we would enter the doors of my Granny's house, my Papa would point us in the direction of the treats he had waiting for us. (Which would drive my mom crazy.) He would have a bag of Golden Flake Sour Cream & Onion chips and some fudge ripple ice cream in the freezer. I would run to his room and play with my paper dolls, or sit and listen to his Johnny Cash records. I would head out side and play with the dogs, or wander through his amazing garden. I would invite my cousins that lived across the street to come over and play. We would have a wonderful time. I always got the biggest kick from going through their old things. My Grandma Betty had a huge assortment of jewelry and purses. I would have her show me her things, every time I came over. I think she enjoyed telling the stories as much as I loved listening to them.
Summers in the south really are grand. From quick trips to the beach or lake, to campfires at night. From sweet iced tea on the front porch, to catching lightning bugs at night - everything is special down here.
What are some of your fondest memories surrounding summer?