The Sweet Return of Summer
Friday, July 18, 2008
What we need are wormholes.
Wormholes back to that day when Jimmy Phaelan's baseball went sailing into old Mrs. Hattigan's attic window and we ran off under the railroad tracks for hours, deciding we'd rather become hobos than get caught. And we almost did, but then it was time for dinner.
Or to that time we were at Aunt Marge's house by the lake and she let us sleep on the front porch by ourselves. There were creatures making sounds in the woods, remember? You stuffed a whole bag of gingersnaps in your pillow and made me sing that stupid song every time I wanted one.
Or to the night the carnival came to town and we were finally allowed to ride by ourselves, and I won that giant stuffed unicorn at the water gun game, but you were so busy trying to impress Jo Reynolds that you rode the Tilt-a-Whirl like 10 times. And then you puked, and Jo took off.
We need a wormhole back to that.
To fireflies in mason jars. To belly-flop competitions. Slip 'n Slide bruises. Hand-caught crawfish. Kool-Aid ice-cube pops. Mom's legs stretched out on the chaise, sunglasses up on her head as she laughed at the crazy skit you and Danny spent all afternoon perfecting.
To electing clubhouse presidents and adventures in the woods that weren't really woods but a secret deserted island with treasure buried deep inside.
To hair that smelled like campfire smoke, or chlorine, or taffy that got stuck and wouldn't come out unless we cut it out. And we need to cut it out right now, young lady.
To another summer. And it's always summer when we want to go back. We were kids in March and November, of course, but never so much as we were in July. Unseated, unscheduled, unleashed on the world. Or the neighborhood, at least, and that really was the world.
We don't have any wormholes. Not yet. But we do have some spots that seem to exist in time warps. Places that have survived, or come back. Sights and sounds that might make you pause, momentarily transported. To the swimming hole you used to visit, the ice cream shop with that special flavor you always, always ordered.
Maybe the places we share on these next few pages will rattle something dormant in you. The urge to play, perhaps, or slow down. Maybe they'll delight the restless, wild things calling you -- " Mom!" " Dad!"
Or maybe they'll just make you remember. And maybe that's enough.
-- Ellen McCarthy