*Edit: sorry for the very long and very rambly post... but, in case you hadn't noticed, this blog is called Rejoicings and RAMBLINGS-- with good reason apparently!! :)
My lovely Stephanie is hosting a blog contest that ends today... I love that she is prompting us all to recall summer memories and share them on our blog, and I love the prize that she is giving away as a reward to that one fortunate girl. Our very own Wishcake is the creator behind these oh-so-cute things, and I can't pass up the chance to own a piece of her talent! Not to mention that pretty much everything Stephanie does is something I love-- including this summer contest and the beautiful badge that goes with it.
So which summer memory should I share? I had to think long and hard about this one... what is it about summertime, especially as a child, that helps to create such magical memories? There are so many that I can recall, all bathed in the glow of warm sun and sweet nostalgia, each as appealing as the last.
I can remember the family vacations that we took in the summertime. We visited my grandma in New York at her little stone cottage in the clearing, we went to the Grand Canyon, we visited California (never dreaming I would someday live there). Some vacations even took us as far as Prince Edward Island in Canada (the home of my very own well-beloved Anne of Green Gables-- could it get any better?), or Alaska.
I love to think back on the days spent at church camp in the beautiful Black Hills with my bestie Kayla, flirting with boys, staying up much too late, and learning many valuable lessons surrounded by beautiful nature and the smell of pine. To this day when I smell pine trees it takes me back to that church camp and all the many wonderful memories I made there.
And then there were the summers that we moved, once from Minnesota to South Dakota, the second time to Nebraska. Those were adventures in life, for sure. And they were the start of many, many other memories.
Of course, I have many wonderful memories of the summers spent here in California, as I got older and childhood slipped away. Our day trips to the beach as a family... ping-pong and hours of laughing and talking with our large group of friends when we were all single and had not a care... the first summer Jeremy and I were together as boyfriend and girlfriend and all the sweet things that came with young love... our first summer as newlyweds in our tiny little apartment.
But there is just something about those childhood summer memories that make them stand out to me. Maybe it is because time tends to sweeten memories and make them even more precious. Maybe it is because life as a child is simple and it is that very simplicity which makes it so beautiful and memorable. I don't know... but whatever the reason, it is a very simple memory that I chose to share.
When we lived in Pipestone, MN, we lived on what was the edge of town back then. Literally. We were the very last house on the block, and not fifty feet from our house the road turned to gravel and soon dead-ended into a small park and baseball field. Where our yard ended on the one side there was a big empty dirt lot, with nothing but a few trees and skies stretching out behind. Across the street from us was a large, overgrown, fenced-in (by a rustic wooden fence, no less) grassy field where the wind would play and occasionally, horses. But the best part about the end of our block was not any of these things, although I love and remember them all quite clearly.
No, by far, the best part of where we lived was our creek. Or, as we all called it, "the crick". A little, winding, perfect, grassy-banked creek, not even a block from our house. I cannot even tell you how many hours my brothers and I spent in that wonderful place in the summer-time. To our childish minds, it could not have been a more wonderful place. There were plenty of water-bugs to watch, skimming along the surface like miniature long-legged ice skaters. The rocks were smooth and round, some big enough to create little ripples in the current, some even big enough to sit on while we dangled our toes, some small enough to pick up and throw. We loved to step from stone to stone, trying to keep our balance. Every once in a while we were excited to spot minnows, and I distinctly remember catching "crawdads" from time to time. Once, we even caught a rather large (more than a foot across) turtle from the creek and kept him in our wading pool for days, until he escaped. Poor turtle.
The depth of the creek always varied. Sometimes, it was so shallow that we barely had to get wet in order to wade. Other times, after a summer downpour, it was so full and rushed so fast that we didn't dare to go in, although I was always fascinated by the way it looked after a rainstorm; it was as if our friendly little harmless creek had been possessed for a time and was some sort of a stranger. Though it was fascinating to watch it then, I was always glad when it returned to it's slow, steady crawl, with the sunshine sparkling on the water and each detail of the creek-bed visible through the clear, cool water.
Because the road passed over the creek, there was a tunnel, made out of corrugated metal, that the creek passed through. The water and air under the tunnel was always degrees colder, and the bed was lined with rocks the whole way through. We loved to have competitions and dares, seeing who could make it through the fastest without getting wet. In order to do this, one had to perform some sort of funny squat/run across slippery stones of all sizes. Not exactly easy to do, and you can imagine how many times we came away from our adventures at the crick with wet behinds.
So I guess my summer memory isn't so much of one particular time or event-- it is of a place. A place that led to many adventures, imaginings, and funny stories with friends. A place that was used for science experiments as well as simply lazing around and passing the summer days. A place that is now gone, for in the time before we moved away the empty lot was filled with apartments and pavement, the field across the street was mowed down, and the creek was dug out to become a big, dirt-banked, unfriendly irrigation ditch-- or something like that... I'm not sure, but I do remember being sad when our little crick as we had known it was gone. So it goes-- things change, children grow up, and lazy days are soon gone. But I will always remember that sweet little creek and it's simple grassy banks with the sunshine dancing off the water. In that place is all the nostalgia and freedom of childhood, all the magic of summer.