Sunday, June 2, 2013

Summer Days

June is busting out and it is getting hotter than hades here in our happy little town.  Of course as always Phoenix is beautiful.  The flowers are all in bloom as are all the trees.  The grass is green where it has been planted and watered.  The trees, bless them, have become overgrown with their spring growth spurt and we have had to have the ones in the front trimmed already.  The early mornings are still in the high 70's but are quickly moving to the 80's by 8:00AM and over 100' by noon. 
By afternoon it is 105-108 and it then slowly cools down by midnight.  It will only get worse until September.  Oh! happy summer days.
I well remember when I could not wait until summer.  School was out in mid June and we didn't go back until after Labor day in September.  It rarely even approached 90' in summer and you could always use a sweater or shirt by evening.  I do not remember ever complaining about weather back then during spring, summer or fall.  Rain would come in either brief showers or heavy thunderstorms but I loved the rain.  I would run out to walk in it and enjoy it.  I remember Eileen and I in Alex. Bay walking downtown in the rain and back with our feet bare.  Eileen's Mom thought we were crazy, but then she always felt I was crazy.  She wasn't far from the mark.  When I was younger I spend most of the summers alone at home or playing and fighting with the neighbor country kids.  I read a lot or played games with my dolls, chemistry set, or snow fences rolled up behind the barn.  Those snow fences became my horses and I would ride them into my wild west fantasies.  Sometimes my friend Terry, who was 4 years younger than I, would ride the snow fences with me and I would carry him along in my mental adventure.  I would also turn my front porch into a covered wagon and drive my mules or horses by sitting on the wooden risers which enclosed the side where the steps were.   I would write out lists of barrels of flour and beans and sugar, and  preserved sides of pork and beef which had to be loaded in the wagon along with extra wheel rims, tins of nails and tools like axes, shovels, hammers etc.  I would make the lists as complete as possible to meet the needs of travel through both plains and deserts and I always brought beads and baubles to trade with the Indians I might meet along the way.  Terry would sometimes come in the covered wagon with me but all he wanted to do was fight Indians so he didn't fit well in the over all scheme.  I had to worry about trails over the mountains and fording rivers.  I didn't  want to fight Indians I wanted to become their friend and use their knowledge to help me get to my destiny.
When I entered my teen years I went to Church camp, Alders Gate, one week every year and I just loved it.  I also was invited to my brother-in-law's family home every summer to spend a few weeks in Alexandria Bay.  Alex. Bay  was a small town on the St. Lawrence River and near some of the Thousand Islands which are so famous in the region.  My brother-in-law Gene drove a Tour Boat on the river which stopped on or near many of the islands.  His sister Eileen and I were the same age.  She was my best friend and we had such fun together.  We both read like crazy and we would walk to the library and come home with arms full of books.  We would read each others books too and we had long discussions.  Sometimes we also fought but mainly about religion.  I was Methodist and she was Roman Catholic.  We would fight about the Virgin Mary, praying to the Saints as intermediaries, and Communion and transfiguration.  It was such fun but sometimes we would yell so loud at each other that an adult would have to intervene.  Eileen had a sister and 3 older brothers.  I had only a sister so it was also fun to see Eileen's family argue and fight.  All her relatives and cousins would descend on the Catlin house especially on the weekends.  I wasn't used to large Irish families so that was a lot of fun for me too.  There was always something going on.  I was jealous of Eileen's relationship with her cousin Diana, but she was so nice I couldn't hate her.  I was just happy when she went home and I could have Eileen to myself.  On the other hand I did hate Eileen's niece.  She was Marie's daughter and I can't remember her name but I am sure I forgot on purpose.  She was just a few years younger than us, spoiled, and I could not stand the attention Eileen paid to her.  When she came I was ready to go home to my solitary summer life.  My sister Jackie and her husband Gene were very generous about driving me the 80 miles back and forth from Potsdam to the Bay.
The summer weeks I was home were long and lazy.  I would read, walk and ride my bike in the country, pick berries, play with my, and the neighborhood's, animals, and daydream.  My mother and father both worked and my sister was working in restaurants in the Bay or married with small babies.
Until I got my driver's license at 16, I was home bound, but even after that I didn't have a car so I was home during the summer.
The long, warm summers did breed discontent and I couldn't wait to leave home and start living my life.  I had one summer of freedom after I graduated from High school.  My Dad bought me an old $50.00 car and I had it for most of June, July and August before I left for College.  I drove that old car to the max.  I went into Potsdam and picked up Christa and we went to Postwood swimming and then we would just cruse around. Christa left for Airline School in early July and then I would drive to Massena to help my Dad at the Marina to make some spending money. I also drove to Alex. Bay to see Eileen and got her in trouble with her parents because we stayed out too late.  I forget what we were doing but it was innocent.  However, her folks sure didn't think so and I got yelled at by the whole family. I was persona non grata for the whole week.
So I never had a long summer after that because the following year I began working and that was it until India.
Aw youth, aw summer, aw heck.