Sometimes I feel I’m marking the passage of time in summers.
Prima and Secondo have birthdays at the beginning of summer and so the hourglass makes its annual revolution just as summer starts.
The long days cause us to linger a little longer over dinners, baseball games and family times.
We see each other a lot more. The kids are home, or at day camps, having new adventures with a lot to share about at night. We get to go on vacation together at least once. Friends are out of town, so while we socialize a fair bit, we also seem to circle the wagons and look to one another for entertainment. Every summer for the last few, I read books out loud to the whole family – Harry Potter or Pippi Longstocking or Anne of Green Gables or some other precious tome containing enough escapist magic to change all of our lives just a little.
Each summer, the girls seem to discover (either independently or with my steering) a classic television family. Two years ago, it was the Brady Bunch, thanks to a friend who loaned them the complete box set she’d been given for Christmas. It immediately piqued their curiosity when she bestowed it upon them in its green shag carpet box for safe summer keeping before they went out of town.
Within a day – they were obsessed with Cindy, Bobby, Peter, Jan, Marcia, Greg, Alice and Mr. and Mrs. Brady. Like byline-starved investigative reporters, they questioning me about it: Did I know how cute Cindy was? What about her curls? Did I think Secondo looked like Cindy? (They did.) Had I seen the one when they get Tiger? When they broke the lamp? What was up with Mrs. Brady’s hair? Was that actually a popular hairstyle at one point?
When they worked their way up to the double-episode trip to the Grand Canyon, I stopped what I was doing and watched it with them. They were fascinated, riveted. Secondo clutched my hand as Bobby and Cindy weathered the night lost in the canyon and hid her eyes with the mean old Western man locked them in the dusty ghost town jail.
The Grand Canyon is now firmly planted on their places to visit.
Last summer, thanks to an impulse purchase at Target, they discovered I Love Lucy.
We were spending a few days at our mountain house and they were bored beyond all activity: having roamed through the forest, collected pine cones, taken three bike rides and the dog for a walk at least twice. And it was only 10 a.m.
I found the Lucy box set shoved into the TV console and peeled the plastic on that baby hoping I could get them to sit through one show before we had lunch. They were uber-skeptical. Why was it in black and white? What was it about? Did they have to?
Ladies and gentleman, if it’s been awhile since you’ve observed the magic that is Lucille Ball – it’s time to take another look.
My (at the time) 10- and 6-year-old responded accordingly: rolling on the ground laughing, watching for hours on end, talking non-stop about Lucy and Desi and Ethel and Fred, playing Lucy, mimicking her expressions – all summer long.
Invariably, these discoveries and adventures we share remind me of my summers as a child. Most memories involve my three brothers – particularly my youngest brother, who was only a year younger than me. Most memories include swimming in the pool, watching Dukes of Hazard, eating our favorite lunch of micro-cheese (Kraft cheese sandwiches on Roman Meal bread zapped in the microwave for 30 seconds) and then swimming until we were so waterlogged our wrinkled toes looked about to shrivel up entirely. Or traveling to Ohio to spend summers with my grandparents, hiking through the forest and along the creek with Gramps and walking to Arby’s for lunch, or visiting the rose garden at the park and dancing in the gazebo while imagining I was Liesel in Sound of Music.
Each summer, my mother heart – the fortress that carefully stows and stokes the fire of longing for the highest and best for each child, for each precious happy moment, and radiates those yearnings out to God or the universe – hopes together the summer discoveries and the camps, the new friends and the old, the books we read and the museums we visit, the baseball games and the spontaneous trips to Dairy Queen and the jaunts to the mountains and the long drives to the beach, Prima and Secondo will harvest memories of summer to warm them throughout their lives – and that they’ll laugh a little along the way, too.