Written from the screened porch at the old Earle cabin near Ichetucknee Springs, Florida
June 13, 2018
I don’t even know where to begin, it’s been so long since I’ve written anything (besides a short thank-you note). I’m going all old-school long hand as I’ve no working computer at the moment. How did I manage to journal all those years on paper? It was all I really knew. And I preferred it. Now my mind is faster than my hand. And my posture is terrible.
Yesterday I caught a scent which reminded me of grandpa Pa. It must have been a combination of raw tobacco and the rain right before it falls. I was driving my son and I along one of the many country roads, lined with farmland– corn, cows, horses, watermelon. Power lines neatly parallel to the ever-stretching two-lane highway. Pa used his handkerchief (which he kept in his back pocket) to blow his nose. His vice was chewing tobacco. His very own garden full of the best tomatoes I’ve ever eaten to this day.
As a teen I couldn’t imagine his existence anything short of mundane, perhaps dull. But now I see the allure. The very peacefulness of it all. Days spent tinkering in the garage, tending to the vegetables, gathering fallen tree limbs, wiping the sweat of the brow with a worn handkerchief.
I go to these trips to the springs, to the ranch, to get away from it all. To be away from noise and chatter and chores and errands and work. Here the birds sing day and night. The rooster crows. The donkey bellows. There’s no WiFi. I woke up this morning and walked in dewy grass to pet a pygmy horse.
I miss my Pa. And my Granny. It’s hard sometimes to grasp the brevity of it all– that I shall never again spend time in their presence. Their memories float along with the momentum of the highway, the rows of melon, and the fields of corn.
Soaked in cold spring water
engulfed in it
I want to paddle against the current again
you helped me walk over their slippery path
A mountain’s bald peak
grass as soft as cotton
No stress there
Can we go back
on days like these
where life has sucked out
all the marrow of zen
and time is on fast-forward
The summer of 12
the best in my life
You 12, me 42
But among those swaying pines
and silly laughter
I was the same as you
Two weeks into summer break and I already can’t spell certain words. For a moment I almost forgot the word ‘selection’ starts with an ‘s’ not a ‘c’. I guess this is why they have my son doing summer homework.
“How often do you need me to do homework?” he asks.
Given that he has 30 days of math problems, two books to read and answer a series of questions about, and some writing exercises (fun!), I suggest EVERY DAY.
And I have given myself homework as well. Such as reading (I finished a young adult novel in 3 days) and writing (here I am). Of course I will also help him with his homework as long as it’s not algebra.
Brain gets stagnant and dumb if you don’t use it. Or if you watch too much TV.
Everyone deserves a break though. I think everyone should have two weeks off each season to fully enjoy all that nature and other passions have to offer. Alas other types of learning during those times.
But this is America and unfortunately I don’t see this happening. Only in my little dream world where ice cream has no calories and unicorns prance around the streets.
But thank god for summer break. And I am truly sorry for those of you who don’t get one. If it makes you feel any better this school year I had to wipe poo off toilet seats, smell about 35 stinky sneakers every day, observe at least 10 bloody teeth being extracted, act as counselor/therapist/nurse in countless situations, and cried to myself on a few occasions while feeling all the feelings that erupt embarrassing stifled bouts of snot-bubble sobbery at work. And that was just the first three months.
So we’ll both enjoy this break and learn a little something along the way. And for the record I do know how to spell
We bought a new float yesterday. It’s a blow-up surf board with a tiki image in aqua blue, coral, sunshine yellow, and grass green. It smells like fresh plastic-coated fun. It smells like summer vacation.
There’s a slight tug at my stomach, a nagging to make sure to fit everything one can possibly fit in this time off. My boy is 12. Is this his last childhood summer before he starts getting all teen-agy?
I want to relish in every freckled smile. Every swish of a hand in pool water. Every lazy snuggle. Every moment spent lingering over breakfast when during the school year it’s rush rush rush.
I took an assistant teaching job for many reasons, number one being so I could be on my son’s schedule and enjoy some of his days off with him just like my mother and father did with me.
This time is more precious than gold. More fleeting than the speed of a hummingbird’s wing.
I hear the snap of Nerf guns coming from his bedroom and the goofy chatter between him and his good friend. We will take the new float out again today. The five bucks spent on it will more than pay for itself in laughter and memories.
I like looking around the house and seeing the float, the beach towels, the pizza box from last night’s sleepover feast. A myriad of colors representing all that summer has and should stand for.
What do your summer colors look like? If you could accomplish one thing this summer, what would it be?