Summer days, make me feel fine
These hot summer days put me in mind of growing up in a little town in southern Maine. Not as one of the summer people; in winter you’d find me shivering in the snow at the top of our driveway, waiting for the bus.
Ah, but the summers. The summers were about the freedom to ride my bike past rosa rugosa out to the lighthouse to poke around in tidal pools or into town where I could perhaps choose a comic book or candy to buy with my 25¢ allowance.
Down the street was the Goldenrod, established 1896, the sort of restaurant where one might enjoy a grilled cheese sandwich or fried cod with french fries before getting an ice cream cone to cool off in the hot summer sun. I’d stand outside the window and watch large machines stretch and tease confectionary into taffy consistency. Pretty boxes of the finished salt water taffy were stacked in the window waiting for tourists to buy and take home.
At the other end of town was the amusement park, a child’s idyll so close to home. Dusk was the best time to go, when the lights came on and the spinning, twirling, toppling rides lit up the falling darkness. If the wind blew the right way, we could hear the music all the way up at our house on the hill. Magical.
Our summertime neighbors ran the raft concession on Long Sands beach. We’d never have spent the 50¢ or $1 to rent a float, so it was a thrill to have the inside connection and get one to use for free, for as long as I could stand swimming in the chilly Atlantic waves. Oh, that beach. It stretched on and on, as the name Long Sands suggests. We had it all to ourselves in the off-season. Walking along one foggy fall morning, I discovered a pipe draining into the ocean that inspired me to write an environmental mystery tale, handed in as a second grade homework assignment (with hand-drawn illustrations, no less). (I was big on mysteries back then; later when we lived in a big house on Lindsay Road I wrote a [terrible] mystery story about the empty house across the street owned by summer residents.)
Summer was about my father hypnotizing lobsters into doing handstands on the wooden back step before they met a boiling death. It was about lazing on a big flat rock in our backyard, looking up at the sky and daydreaming. Or climbing a tree (do kids have trees to climb anymore?) that was my secret hideaway. Or finding a dead bird and bringing it home for a proper shoebox burial. Or laying in the grass and studying ants and counting the tiny periwinkle-colored flowers there — still one of my favorites all these years later, even though I don’t know its name and it’s probably a weed that lawn fanatics strive to eradicate.
Summer was my swingset, creaking as it pushed me up into the sky. It was the quiet shade of the woods on the hill above the house, where I meandered looking for jack-in-the-pulpit and lady’s slipper.
Fall would come all too fast. Back to school time, where once again I’d wait for the bus, and we’d drive out to the lighthouse to pick up the boy who lived there. Time for storms at sea, best viewed from the huge picture window at Mrs. Smith’s (no relation) house, perched on the edge of the cliff.
August always marks the waning of the summer. And in the heat, stirring my iced tea, I think back to those long days of summertime, and how I never wanted them to end.