Summer Vacation has started. Yesterday was the last day of school…sort of. Really, Thursday was because yesterday was Honors Chapel and Clean Out The Locker and Wander Around Aimlessly While Grinning Because It Was The Last Day day. Plus it was a half day. Thursday after picking #4 up from school at 3, we went to Vandy’s (the local BBQ joint) for tea and fried pickles (just so you know, if you aren’t from around here, when one says “tea” they mean iced tea, especially this time of year. If you want hot tea you have to specify ‘hot tea’ and then sometimes explain to the wait-person that no, iced tea heated in a mug is not the same. However, this day it was most definitely iced tea, as it was about 90F. Also, in South Georgia, ‘tea’ automatically means ‘sweet tea’, which is very sweet indeed. I generally order “half and half tea” which is half sweet, half unsweet, except at Vandy’s where I get ‘unsweet with a splash of sweet’ because their sweet tea could sub as pancake syrup.)
At 4, I took #4 to the theater, to see Godzilla. There we met 3 other boys from his school, and I offered to sit a couple of rows up, so as to minimize parental embarrassment, but they were all “Hi Mrs. #4’s Mom!” and seemed ok with it. Even #4 was “Oh Mom, you can sit with us” but I think that was so I could go refill the cokes and popcorn without them missing any of the movie, which was fine because I’d already seen it. now, probably I could have just dropped him off with the others, but one of them was a bit younger and his mom was happier knowing I was there. It would have been fine because about 10 others from the school showed up in a different group, all responsible people and they’d have kept the youngling safe…but, this way I got so play waitress and refill the bucket and cokes many times. Since I’d seen the movie already, no big deal. Plus it made me feel like the Cool Mom since they didn’t seem horrified by my presence.
Today, I got to sleep late. Until a luxurious and self indulgent 7am. I remember when Summer meant sleeping until 10 or 11. Now 7 seems REALLY late. But then, school year means getting up at 4:30 or 5, so I guess 7 is pretty late.
Last night around 9, when it was just getting good and dark, I stepped outside on the back patio. The bricks were still warm from the day, and the humid air was as well, but not with the scorching heat of sunlight, just that ambient Southern heat, held in place by the humidity. Memories of Summers from my childhood came on….evenings spent playing flashlight tag, or hunting lightning bugs. Running into the house asking if it was OK to spend the night with the girl down the street…I always enjoyed that because her mother would make real pancakes with white flour and Aunt Jemima syrup. We didn’t use white flour at out house, or anything with sugar in it. Sometimes her mother would put chocolate chips in the pancakes, another thing that was forbidden. Sometimes she didn’t make pancakes and we had some kind of ridiculous cereal like Cocoa Puffs of Froot Loops…We didn’t even go down the cereal aisle in the store, let alone have stuff like that.
The warm patio bricks, and the music of peepers on the pond, the scent of honeysuckle and the funk from the swamp across the street, the screech of the kids 2 doors up, made me close my eyes and breath in deep. I remember starting my first “real” job 2 days after graduating from high school. I was working in the kitchen and dining room of an assisted living facility. It hit me about a week later that I would probably never again have Summer Vacation. No more of those long, lazy days spent by the pool (there was a neighborhood one), evenings with flashlights, and sleepovers ending with sugar overload. For a long time I mourned the loss of that, but now, I guess it’s kind of back. Sure, there is more responsibility. Dinner still has to be cooked, laundry done, and for some reason I am actually excited about making more work for myself with this garden, but there is also a relaxation of time schedules. No alarm clocks unless I want it. Breakfast is ‘whatever you fix for yourself”.
In about 2 weeks #4 will be leaving for camp, to learn shotgun skills and engineering skills and some other thing he signed up for and we don’t remember what it was, also whitewater rafting and zip-lining and swimming in a lake filled with leeches. When he comes home after that, a couple of days later (once the mud has been washed out of his ears and clothes) he will go to spend 6 weeks with Mom and Dad, honing his shotgun and riflery skills, learning blacksmithing and metalworking with his brother, and Dad, and probably doing some horseback riding. This also means it will just be Himself and myself in the house. The food bill will drop precipitously. Water consumption will as well. And probably electricity, as the gene for turning lights off seems to be missing from the Y chromosome. It will be very quiet.
I will sit on the patio after dark (when the skeeters die down) with a cold libation, and listen to the frogs, cicadas, all those things that make a mockery of the “quiet of country life”, and dream about the future, the one where there’s grandchildren who sleep until 10 or 11 am, spend the day by the pool, and look forward to doing the same thing the next day. I will remember how, when I was 12, Summer Vacation was Forever, endlessly long and lovely.