By Rick Houser –
I can’t speak for all of the people but feel very certain I can speak for the majority of the folks in saying that we wait the entire year for summer to arrive. Sadly, it is only here a short period of time. Yes, the leaves in the fall are nice to see as they put on a show of their beauty. Yes, that first sight of a newly fallen snow with the sun shining on it is a stunning sight also. And yes, all the colors that appear in the spring from the flowers and trees alike do give us cause to stop and admire.
However, when the days show us their longest time in the light and the newly planted crops and gardens are sprouting, and when the sun sets in the west, we only have to just sit back in our lawn chairs and watch the light shows that the lightning bugs put on. Then and only then is it time to say hooray, summer is finally here! I’m certain most have heard the expression, “the long hot days of summer”. The thing is when summer does arrive the days are at their longest and can get dangerously hot. but the time summer is with us is just not long enough.
Summer delivers us the time to do so much that the bitter cold seems to put a halt to. Things such as family picnics or grilling out on your deck or patio with family, friends, or neighbors. To smell the fragrance of charcoal, steak, or burgers cooking just has to bring a smile to anyone’s face.
I recall that on a Sunday my family would gather and crank out a batch of homemade ice cream. For a long period of time we only had the hand crank type, and all of us taking our turns at the crank to freeze that delicious treat probably only made it taste better. Another summer treat was when the watermelon truck would stop by and we would pick out the biggest and hopefully ripest melon on his truck and pay the man the 75 cents he was asking per melon. It then was placed into the fridge for a long enough time to cause the melon to be ice cold. A slice of almost freezing water melon with icy juice dripping all over was one of those treats that could only be experienced in the summer time.
When the grill was going it was a bonus to throw ears of sugar corn on (still in their shucks) and serve them with the main course. That only made a grilled meal that much better. I guess I mention the sugar corn now as I think of all the garden produce that becomes ripe and is in need of harvest in the summer time.
This is when I recall a lot of canning and freezing going on in our house, as it was in everyone else’s also. When you went to the garden and harvested as much as it seemed we did, I still think of the “horn of plenty”. Even if I wasn’t wild about the idea of vegetables and no meat or dessert if times were to get that bad. I knew I wasn’t gonna go hungry.
A sign to me in my early years that summer was beginning was when our church, The Church of Christ in Moscow, would hold Vacation Bible School. VBS lasted two weeks and it was full of learning about our Lord and the right way to live, followed by crafts and then an intermission where we went to the basement and the Ladies Aide would serve us Kool Aid and homemade cookies. If they ran out of homemade cookies, they served “Mama’s Cookies”. I think if a vote was taken, the Ladies Aide and their cookies would have been the most popular part of an evening. Did I mention these little old ladies treated every kid there as if they were their grandchild and in fact my Grandma was one of them and I know for a fact that she was very good at spoiling children.
Along with our home grown harvests we would buy up a bushel or two of fresh Georgia peaches. They were very tasty but a dead ripe peach had a short life span, so for a couple of days Mom would work frantically to as she termed it “work up the peaches”. A lot got frozen to be used in the winter, but the very ripe we got served and encouraged to eat up. The best part was Mom would make peach pies and cobblers daily for about a week or until we lost interest. She didn’t want a peach to spoil because she had paid good money for them. (I don’t think she ever lost a one.)
Of course summertime also meant a lot of farm work and the kind of work that took place on super-hot days. A hot day was never an excuse to take off from work. Precautions were taken and more frequent breaks along with Dad making sure we drank a little more water, but we harvested the hay and wheat in what I would call blistering hot weather. At the end of the day I would arrive at the house a little more tan and my hair just a tad lighter in color. The thing is that we still always felt up to an evening of the events I have been talking about. If they weren’t being offered, we would do a little pond fishing or throw some horseshoes or play some croquet.
As for me, if I couldn’t find much to do all I had to do was go over to see the Marshall brothers as they always had something planned. Or I would just walk up the road about 500 yards to my cousin Walt’s house and if there was nothing happening there, which was rarer than a solar eclipse, I would go back to our house turn on the radio and listen to the Reds game and settle in for a night’s rest. That was rare indeed as it was summer and I didn’t want to miss a second of it. Oh and by the way did I mention I still hate winter? Well I do!
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. If interested to read more of his stories he has two books: There are Places to Remember” and Memories ARE From the Heart” He can be reached to if you would want one at firstname.lastname@example.org.