SMALL TOWN SUMMERS MAKE THE BEST MEMORIES
I wait all year for summer. Fall is nice, but I don't get along with winter. I need warmth and sunshine to be happy. Although summer doesn't officially begin until June 21, this week marks the beginning of summer for me. It's not summer until I bite into a fresh strawberry, and I did that on Friday after scanning the Crossroads Auction for the very best pick.
If I'm paying almost four dollars a box, I want the sweetest, juiciest gems available. Relying only on visual appeal, I carefully chose two boxes. After washing, cutting and sprinkling with sugar, I let the strawberries rest in the refrigerator for a few hours (which almost killed me). But that's the only way to get that sweet red nectar that soaks into the shortcake and makes it extra delicious.
Strawberry shortcake is one of the many joys of summer. After devouring a bigger serving than I needed, we headed to City Island to take in a Senator's game. When you're sitting in a stadium hearing the crack of aluminum hitting leather, you know it's officially summer. I'm not a big baseball fan. I was actually there to hear my daughter and her fellow Halifax chorus members sing the national anthem. But I understand why people love the game.
I was sixteen and on my first date when I first experienced a Phillies game. For a girl who grew up in a small town that she rarely got out of, a bus trip to Philadelphia was a big deal. But I have to say the Senator's game was more entertaining than the Phillies game was in the seventies. My heart wasn't racing with the thrill of my first boyfriend beside me, but the chance of winning a flat-screen TV at the top of every inning was pulsating for a middle-aged woman with a TV-loving husband. Throw in a rainbow and some man-made fireworks toward evening, and it was a perfect summer outing. The only disappointment was that cold soft pretzel.
When I was a kid, it seemed that summer never ended. My entire childhood is stored in my memory as one ongoing summer. What other season can top summer for holding the most memorable times in our lives? My earliest summer memories are of the sixties. Pillow was the only town I called home until I married in my twenties and moved to Dalmatia. In the sixties we lived in a trailer in a part of town called the "mud pike." I think somebody's mother came up with that nickname because a small stream ran adjacent to the houses on that block.
I can't imagine growing up in a city. The things I would have missed! You can't find a good swimming hole in the city or grab mom's mason jar and come home with a batch of tadpoles or caterpillars. You can't keep a horse in the city. You can't pitch a tent in your friend's back yard and tell your mom you're sleeping over, then spend the night running around town until daybreak. Most city kids don't have big yards to catch lightning bugs and play hide-n-seek in the dark. They can't lay in bed listening through an open window to late night sounds of the summer carnival: The twang of guitar from the band stand, The ting of pennies hitting glass, and the microphoned call of letters and numbers until "we have another winner" at Bingo.
Summer and small town living are two of the best things in life, and summer is here once again. The strawberries are in. The games have begun, and more memories are waiting to be made.