When I was young, my Mom used to take my brother and me to the public pool when it opened around 10 in morning, then pick us up when it closed around 6. They had a loud boomy speaker, and as our parents arrived at closing time, our names would be yelled out one by one. We would dawdle our way to the car, preferring to stay in the water as long as possible. I can’t tell you how many times I got burned, peeled, then burned again. We didn’t give a damn about sun screen, SPF’s, or what if. We just played.

Version 2

Those were long days, broken up only by the occasional errand-day or car-trip to my grandparents’ in Virginia. There, summer felt like something else. The smell of chlorine was replaced with the smell of ivy on old brick walls or the odor of freshly caught fish, slung into the boat from the waters of the Rappahannock River. The energy spent flinging myself from the high dive or cartwheeling off the low one, was spent running around with my brother, pulling our wagon over the bumps in the sidewalk where the tree roots pushed it up. Packed sandwiches and Icees gave way to my grandmothers’ amazing cooking. One, classic Southern with Smithfield Hams and homemade pickles. The other, continental or Creole. She was from New Orleans. But even with the change of location, there was a certain beautiful monotony to it. That was, after all, what summer was for.

Version 2

These are memories I can smell and taste and hear. I wonder, often, what memories my children will have of their summers. We have spent many summers in France, but what is beautiful for one person, isn’t always for another. One man’s relaxing is another man’s boring. I love the long walks and bike rides, the working in the garden, the observing the tiny changes that appear in the landscape and the village from year to year. It’s like a meditation. But that is me.

Version 2

My Mom was a big believer in boredom. She didn’t go out of her way to keep me busy. She figured it was my job to figure out how to fill my time with my head and my imagination. I remember being so bored it hurt. So listless I wanted to hurt her. (How could she let the precious minutes of my life go by like that?) I am grateful to her now.

Version 2

And yet, sometimes, it is still hard to be still. Difficult not to pick up the phone or the computer to check the latest polling results. Challenging to take a deep breath and say, It’s OK to be bored. It’s OK to relax. It’s OK not to accomplish anything right this minute.

Is this hard for you? What do you remember of your childhood summers? What did you do to fill your boredom? I wish all of you the summeriest of summers.

Version 2



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13 Responses to Summer

  1. dayphoto says:

    I think boredom is the BIG push to imagination! Its the only real push we get…once we learn how to tap into imagination we instantly understand how to get from here to WAY OUT THERE!


  2. BRILLIANTLY put!! Thank you for saying exactly that!

  3. Debra Kolkka says:

    I grew up at the beach and we were left to our own devices. My school free days were spent swimming in the surf, scouring the beach for treasure, climbing on rocks or just walking for hours. I am paying the price for the endless sunburn now, but I don’t regret a minute.

  4. Gerlinde says:

    I had to dig deep into my memories to recall my childhood summers. I was brought up in a village and I tried to stay away from adults, because they always had something for us to do. They wanted us to help and work. I loved to read and visit my aunt in the city.

  5. janette144 says:

    You know it’s funny. I’ve been thinking about this – what my summers were like growing up in suburban New Jersey. I don’t remember much. I think it was pretty boring. We didn’t go to camp or have paid-for organized activities. We had to find things to do pretty much on our own. Lots of card playing, riding bikes, reading, fighting with my sisters, swimming in friends pools when we could, a few trips to the “shore” and a two week family camping trip. Period. That’s about it. Boring. Maybe that is why I’m not content to just “hang out” now 50 + years later!

  6. My Mother used to say that only boring people got bored – that certainly put a stop to our moaning! c

  7. thehungrycaterpillar says:

    Summers (well late summers) were all about the blackberry picking.
    Filling empty ice cream tubs full of blackberries to made into delicious jam

  8. Hi, I was wondering where you’ve sourced your vintage photos of pasta making in Italy. I’ve seen at least one on your site that I’d love to find in a high res version. Any help or guidance you can give to sources would be appreciated! Thank you. – Mary Beth

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