Momservation: It’s not summer until you see a kid riding their bike to the local pool with a towel around their neck.
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You smell that in the air? That’s the smell of possibilities.
Some people smell sunscreen and chlorine, or Star Jasmine and Honeysuckle on a Delta breeze, or the warmth radiating from asphalt by 9 a.m., or charcoal and BBQ.
That’s how they know it’s really summer.
But ever since I was a little kid and that final bell rang letting us out of school for the summer, all those smells: muddy, wet grass from Slip n Slides and sprinklers, the smell of overripe apricots, plums, and peaches that didn’t get picked in time, mossy creeks filled with tadpoles, the acidic smoke of sparklers…got me vibrating inside with the excitement for all the possibilities summer could hold for me over the next three months.
Man, as free-range kids we really knew how to wring the fun out of summer! After sleeping in and catching some reruns of “Love Boat” and “Fantasy Island” before Mom kicked us outside—usually still in our bathing suits from the day before—we didn’t even bother to grab shoes for the day’s adventure.
You knew it was going to be a hot one if you already had to race across the asphalt street to walk in the cement gutters and on neighbor’s lawns to get to your friends’ houses. Or if your friends couldn’t come out to play yet after knocking on their doors because of chores, you’d race around the block a few times on your banana-seat bike with the ape handle bars to cool off.
Then when the neighborhood kids all finally got together, we’d ask that daily mantra that became the song of summer: “What should we do today?”
“Go to the creek and catch tadpoles!”
“Go find the ice cream man!”
“Ride our bikes to 7-Eleven and see if a new Richie Rich comic book came out!”
“Go pick plums at the empty lot!”
“Go play tetherball at the school!”
“Slip n Slide on your lawn—my dad says we’re killing the grass on our lawn!”
The possibilities were endless.
Even when we were bored and couldn’t figure out anything to do or were tired of playing the same old games, summer never lost its luster or promise of possibilities.
One summer my best friend, Robin, and I decided to solve our boredom problem by making individual lists of all the fun things we liked to do. We numbered them and then took turns picking a number from each other’s list. We weren’t allowed to say we didn’t want to do it—you had to do whatever number you chose at least for a little while.
Sometimes it was to go knock on the sweet little old lady’s house down the block who would give you graham crackers and water from a Goofy Grape and Friends cup if you just told her you were thirsty.
Sometimes it was knocking on another neighbor’s door and asking if we could climb her cherry tree and eat some cherries.
Sometimes it was drawing and coloring at Robin’s because it was the only house in the neighborhood with air-conditioning.
Many times it was scrounging up quarters to ride the bus to the local community pool with the three pools, Pacman arcade game and high dives or riding our bikes to the local Cabana Club with the all the little pool-pee-ers but the cute lifeguard because it was closer.
Interspersed with the daily decisions of what to do that day, there were other excitements of summer to look forward to.
Camping almost every weekend at alpine lakes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Fourth of July fun and fireworks.
The county fair.
Going to Monterey to spend two weeks with cousins or having them come stay with us for two weeks.
Impromptu trips to Great America amusement park, or the movies, or to Shakey’s Pizza, or Chuck E. Cheese—anything that was a splurge on tight finances.
Every morning when I woke up as a kid in the summertime, I would pop out of bed because I couldn’t wait to see what the day would have in store.
Isn’t it interesting how your childhood experiences can set the tone for the rest of your life on how you react and perceive things?
I no longer have the time or youthful inclination to spend hours at the creek trying to catch frogs, or playing endless games of Red Light Green Light with a passel of kids on the biggest lawn in the neighborhood, or scouring gutters and garbage cans for glass Coke and Sprite bottles that would net us 10 cents apiece to splurge at the local 7-Eleven on candy, Slurpees and comic books.
But as a 47-year old, when I step outside and smell summer, that same familiar vibration wells up inside me. I get excited for the possibilities that summer can offer.
I look forward to the day-trips and vacations we have planned. I have a sense of urgency to do fun things instead of the same-old chores and responsibilities: grab the kids and get Slurpees or Baskin-Robbins, have a family movie night, dust off the board games, backyard camping.
I try to get my normal daily grind done as quickly as possible so I can ask friends and family: “What should we do today?”
“Let’s go to lunch!”
“Let’s go bowling!”
“Let’s go to a water park!”
“Let’s go the State Fair!”
“Let’s make margaritas and read gossip magazines by the pool!”
“Let’s go to Studio Movie Grill!”
“Let’s go to Tahoe or San Francisco!”
“Let’s go to the farmer’s market and get fresh fruit!”
“Let’s go to Top Golf!”
“Let’s do happy hour at Ruth Chris!”
You don’t have to be a kid to get the most out of summer. The days of staying in our bathing suits from dusk to dawn and running around all day barefoot may be over, but enjoying the bounty of summer is timeless.
“Let’s sit outside and smell the possibilities.”
#SmellsofSummer #SummerMemories #Enjoythe journey