Summer has always been my favorite time of year. I’m a regular Olaf, breaking into song at the mere mention of the word. Often to my kids’ collective embarrassment. “In Suuuuummmmmmer . . . ”
The lead-up to the best season ever has always been, of course, the last day of school.
The last day of school has a feel all its own. It’s an indescribable, intangible, just-plain-awesome feeling. I don’t care if it’s your last day of kindergarten, or the last day of your senior year in high school, the last day is just so–last day.
In elementary school the last day meant a class party complete with sugar cookies and fruit punch in Dixie cups. Later, with full bellies and red mustaches, we’d wander home from school soaking up the sunshine, in no great hurry.
In middle school it was conferring in the classroom with friends, deciding on a place to go once the final school bell rang. No matter whose house was chosen as the location of celebration, when that school bell rang it was always a mad dash of middle-schoolers on bicycles shrugging off the yearlong chains of teachers, rules, and good behavior, with every pump of the pedals.
And in high school . . . high school. You talk about a special time because at that point you can drive, you have friends that drive, and probably a boyfriend or girlfriend to hang out with. You’re young and dumb and have the most idealistic views, and simply have no idea of the path ahead. Ah, to go back to young and dumb and idealistic. When life was easier. Only we didn’t know it then. Which is surprising, because we knew everything then.
Waking on the first morning after the last day of school felt like freedom. It felt like we had all the time in the world and endless things to fill up that time.
Swimming, Four Square, and picnics. Sleepovers, late-night movies, and video games.
In Summer there were long bike rides to the convenience store, which didn’t seem very convenient since it was so far away. Picking out candy from the 5 cent bins, a soda from the fridge, and playing Spy Hunter or Pac-Man on the 2 arcade consoles in the corner tended to ease the inconvenience of this convenience store.
Summer meant playing baseball or football in the empty lot down the street with the other neighborhood kids–convening in the morning, and scattering at lunchtime, promising to meet back at that very spot, at which time we’d continue to play until, one by one, we were called home to dinner.
Summers were full of games of tag, Red Rover, and roller skating. But the best was playing hide-and-seek after dark, always content to push the limits of our bedtime, hoping no adult noticed we were still out because we were having too much fun.
In those ninety or so days between the last day of school and the first, a shoe rarely adorned a foot.
As we chased each other in an endless loop of made-up games, the warmth of concrete underfoot gave way to cool comfort in the transition between smooth driveway and prickly grass.
Some of the best roller skating races took place on that very driveway, with not a single pebble or stone amid the concrete to trip up a racer.
Summer meant Popsicles, eaten at lighting speed or you’d have a purple puddle at your feet. There was always watermelon and lemonade in excess. And popcorn bathed in butter at the movies and pizza for dinner.
The tinkling of a familiar song, as the the ice cream truck rounded the corner, magically caused a stampede of children to drop everything and run after it because, somehow, the ice cream from that truck tasted ten times better than any other ice cream in the world.
Summer will always evoke these nostalgic memories. Memories that can be found in puffy, white clouds and crystal blue swimming pools. Memories that live in children leaping through sprinklers and belly-flopping on Slip ‘N Slides. Memories that live in the recesses of this Olaf-esque mind. Summer will always be my favorite time of year.