Patti M. Hummel
It’s Summer Time and the living is easy… Great lyrics to a song most of us recognize, but have times changed so much since they were penned by Ira and George Gershwin and their fellow writer DuBose Heyward in 1935? Oh, yes, they have!
Even when I was a child the lyrics held more truth than it does today. Most days, nothing about summer time seems particularly easy. The rush and complication of most summer days keeps us so busy and overloaded with running around to meet the demands of the day that there is nothing about them that is easy!
When the last day of school landed my six siblings and me on the bus ride home we had no grandiose thoughts of vacations or activities that had to be scheduled weeks in advance in order to not interrupt our parent’s schedule. We were going home from the last day of school for the summer! That was it. Now, that did not mean that we would be sitting around bored for three months (which was actually three months back then). The difference meant that we would not be going to school and that our list of chores increased drastically.
Summer time meant that we helped to do the laundry in a ringer washing machine that adorned the back porch and we hung it on long clothes lines supported in the center with tree branches. What fun it was to rush to bring the laundry in when a summer storm blew in from somewhere. And we laughed as silly kids will do.
Often Daddy would take a few of us with him when he walked to the pond to fish with poles made from branches. It was not easy to sit that still, but Daddy insisted that if we moved the fish would not bite. So we obeyed and sat waiting for something larger than a minnow to tug on our lines. We had no coolers so when meal time came we gathered our fishing poles and walked through the cow pasture back to our little house laughing as silly kids will do when one of us happened upon a cow patty before realizing it and got our shoes coated with the dark goo.
Vacation Bible School was the only big summer event in our lives and perhaps a revival that lasted from Sunday to Saturday and everyone in the neighborhood attended. I was saved in VBS so my heart is especially tender toward the continuation of that special week each summer. The commencement program was the most exciting thing I had ever witnessed. I loved being a part of those programs sharing with the audience what we had learned that week. Walking up to receive our certificate for attending and being bragged on by our teachers and the VBS Director (always the mother of one of our friends and our own mother a few times) brought such happiness that we laughed as silly kids will do.
In the late summer Daddy and Mother would have us cover our bodies as much as we could and we would walk single file through the woods… Daddy in the lead, Mother at the end with the seven of us keeping step in the middle much like an army of ants. All the while Daddy would be looking up in the trees. Finally he would stop and tell us to spread the sheets we brought with us all over the ground. He would climb a tree and begin to shake it vigorously causing muscadines to fall and bounce all over the sheets. We were there to make certain that none were lost. Walking home with our bounty brought memories of the yummy muscadine hull pies and the jelly Mother would make with the load we had and we laughed like silly kids will do.
On Saturday afternoons Mother and Daddy would gather us to take a ride to the creek just past the old bridge. Many from our church and community would be there. The water was cold and refreshing on those long hot South Carolina days. We played until the little ones fell asleep and until it was almost too dark to see. Then we went home to be hosed off before we got ready for bed and we laughed like silly kids will do.
There was some free time as we waited for the garden to produce its fruit, so we were creative in our play. We had to be because there was no stack of toys, no videos, no magazines, and not any of the items kids today demand. We drew houses on the ground and drew furniture in them that we had seen in the Sears Catalog. We made our houses as grand as we possibly could. And, we insisted that our siblings enter through the doors and not the walls. We spent hours in our houses. We made crowns form leaves and thorns, and necklaces and bracelets from woven grasses. We transformed ourselves into rich princesses, and we laughed as silly kids will do.
Summer time meant that we would be helping in the garden and when we picked a tomato the birds had already been eating on, we would throw it as far as we could watching it smash and scatter, and we laughed as silly kids will do.
We helped to wash the vegetables and cut them so that mother could can some and freeze others. We learned to cut out our own clothes and learned to sew… often after taking our crooked stitches out several times before the garment was right. Trying on half finished dresses inside-out with only part of a hem in place made us laugh as silly kids will do.
Other activities are equally as memorable: catching fireflies, making toad stools in the wet sand, counting stars, searching the clouds for figures and items of interest, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and drinking Kool aid (the drink of choice) almost daily for lunch, waiting for the mailman who actually spoke to us and delivered 3 cent stamps, looking forward to the delivery of the Grit paper, eating the first harvest from our garden, sitting outside at night with neighbors talking about what a great summer we were all having… and we laughed as silly kids will do.
In Ecclesiastes 3 we are reminded that there is a time for everything. Verse 8 ends with, “…and a time of peace.” I wonder if your summer will end with a time of peace. If not, perhaps we all need to find those things that make us laugh as silly kids will do.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 KJV