Here we are in the first week of June, and in just a few weeks school will be letting out for the summer.
For the next few months, there will be no crossing guards, school buses slowing up the morning commute, or happy, noisy children playing on the playgrounds awaiting the morning bell.
We happen to live next to an elementary school, and in the summer I always feel a little melancholy when I see the abandoned swings dangling in the morning sun and tall colorful slides void of any shrieking voices of children enjoying their gravity-fueled ride back to the ground.
I was sitting at my desk today reminiscing about my childhood and thinking about how we spent our summers when I was a kid.
I grew up in a small town. For a while, we lived in the country and I had to ride the bus to and from school every day. I hated the bus. The bus driver lived across the street from us and we were always the first stop in the morning and the last drop off in the afternoon.
Riding the bus felt as if it added five or six hours to an already long day, and time spent bouncing around in the uncomfortable leather seat of the big yellow Blue Bird seemed like time not-so-well spent.
When you’re six or seven years old, the world revolves around playtime. Riding the bus for an additional 45 minutes to an hour every day seriously cut into our playtime.
There were bikes to be ridden, trees to be climbed, outlaws to be hunted and Indians to be captured. I guess when you are young, political correctness isn’t really an issue when all that matters is how many hours of daylight remain until Mom rang the bell on the back porch for dinner.
This is why I loved summers as much as I did. No longer did I have to sit on that bus we affectionately named “old number eight” (our buses were numbered and ours was number eight) and watch the cotton fields flash by.
Nor did I have to count the yellow stripes down the center of that old country road and pretend I was Pac Man in some true-to-life video game just to pass the time.
No, summer meant freedom, freedom from everything that stood in the way of having fun. For three glorious months, we could chew gum and not have to worry about getting caught, go swimming in the irrigation ditches on a hot summer afternoon and lie in the grass while our clothes dried in the sun and watch the summer monsoons roll in as the cloud formations formed overhead.
The one thing that seems to resonate the most with me about those summers long since past is that it all came to an end much too soon.
The month of June seemed like summer had just started and we still had an eternity left before we had to return to school.
As July rolled around, friends went away on family vacations and the reality of the end of our precious freedom started to settle in.
By the first week of August, we learned to treasure every moment of sunlight available because it wouldn’t be long until we found ourselves standing at the end of the driveway on an early September morning waiting for “old number eight” and the bus ride back to school again.
Do you have a favorite summer memory from your childhood? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to leave a comment below, send me a tweet, or even an email. I look forward to hearing from you
Have a great weekend!
Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on twitter at @CDGLA or email: firstname.lastname@example.org .