Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer

A few days ago my friend, Marko, sent out a message sharing his favorite memories of summer and asked others to share theirs. When I received the message I got into a kind of poetic mood, so I decided to write a poem.   

As I wrote it I thought of all the great summers I had as a little kid. I also thought about the boys I hung out with when I was a young man starting to grow up. Boys named Danny, John, Ross, Sam, Tommy, Mike, and the one boy who was nicknamed Putter by his father, because his dad loved golf. I think a lot about those boys sometimes.  We had a lot of laughs. They were great friends who gave me the confidence to do what I needed to do as I moved on in my life.

I also thought about the girls. They were all so smart and pretty that it was easy to secretly fall in love with them when you were in your early teens.  They were girls from around the surrounding blocks, who we all hung out with or who we knew from school. Girls named Anne, Bridget, Lisa, Sarah, and Linda. They were girls you never dated but who became over time some of your favorite friends.  I especially liked Bridget because she would always tell me that I worried too much. She would say, "Why worry about today when it's gonna completely change tomorrow."  I still keep that in mind, though I'm not always good at it.

One particular summer I remember is the one just before we started high school.  That summer was pretty raucous.  There were a lot of poker parties, and nights, sometimes in the rain, where we would roam around the neighborhood and make mischief.  One night on a lark we thought about stealing hubcaps. We were not very good at it, so we abandoned the project. Instead what we did was go around unscrewing various neighbors’ doorknobs where we could.  Some things seem really funny to you when you’re fourteen.  I know my boys have gotten into some mischief in their younger days but I would rather have them doing a little harmless mischief than having them spend their entire summer in the basement in front of a video screen.

When I wrote the poem for Marko I was mostly thinking about the summers I had when I was a kid.  As I re-read it and did my editing, I thought it was remarkable how much it resembled the summer days and weekends that my two boys and my daughter got to have when they were young. I wasn’t usually around a lot during the week because I was always working late or traveling.  I did, however, do my best to be home on the weekends, especially in the summer, when things were a bit slower at work, and they weren’t quite so preoccupied by school and the activities in their life. I loved watching summer unfold on those weekends. I’m happy that my kids had the same kind of summer experiences that me, my wife, and a lot of my friends had when we were that age.

Here is the poem:

Summer

Kids running through the yards
Climbing trees
Skinned knees and mosquito bites
What we called "summer legs"

Swimming in pools
Biking through the prairie
Playing games in the street:
Kick the Can

Lightning bugs in a jar
Bonfires
Sweaty boys playing ball in the yard or the parks
Girls giggling and
Sleeping in tents

Lying in the grass and 
Looking at the moon
Sitting with the garage door open
Watching the rain

Puddle splashing
Getting muddy
Rolling laughter
Moms tsking and rolling their eyes

Sleeping at night
With windows open
Drinking ice tea and lemonade
By fans during the day

Constant mowing
Cooking food outdoors with neighbors
Picnics and festivals
Finally, leaving your winter shell behind

Ice cream trucks
A slushy from the convenient store
Watching furtive and awkward first kisses
In the dark out on the swing set

A quiet moment
When you sit
And hope

That summertime won’t go by too fast.
Nevertheless
It always does.