By Mary Bridges, Salina Presbyterian Manor chaplain
Mem'ries light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored mem'ries of the way we were
Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another for the way we were
Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line
If we had the chance to do it all again, tell me, would we, could we
Mem'ries may be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it's the laughter we will remember
Whenever we remember the way we were
**Songwriters: Alan Bergman / Marilyn Bergman / Marvin Hamlisch
Even though the equinox and solstice define all our seasons, summer for me has always started on Memorial Day and ended on Labor Day. My favorite summer things begin with, sunlight. As children we played outside all day. Sunscreen hadn’t been invented and we didn’t have a clue about the sun and skin cancer as we played in the sprinkler or spent the whole day or went to the city pool. The longer summer days meant more time to play outside. When the sun went down the magic began as the fireflies appeared and the firefly contest was on. We loved catching them and putting them in jars. The one who caught the most was the winner that night. Not so much fun were mosquitos and chiggers. Or those annoying crickets who chirped all night in our basement.
Summer also brought my favorite fresh fruits and vegetables. My dad had a huge garden, and my mom loved to can and make jelly. Back in the “olden” days, we couldn’t buy strawberries, peaches, apricots, currants, watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers, tomatoes, and corn on the cob all year around like we do now. Fresh out of the garden or off the tree has a taste that nothing in this world can match. Oh, and fresh-made lemonade and home-made ice cream. Every Saturday we would make two or three different kinds and put them in the freezer. That was before we knew about that bad cholesterol and we used fresh country cream from our neighbor who had milk cows.
Harvest. I have never decided which I like best, the beautiful fields of green wheat or the ripe grain gently moving in the wind. Streets were lined up with truckloads of golden grain. Playing hopscotch, jacks, or hide-and-seek. Fourth of July fireworks, vacations, family reunions, ice-cold lemonade, sleeping outside on our big front porch (ours was the biggest in our neighborhood) hoping to catch a breeze because no one had air conditioners. Sitting in the car on Main Street each Saturday night and visiting with friends. Each generation shares some of the same summer memories but new ones are always added.
When our children were growing up we added barbeques a lot and camping every weekend at Lake Wilson. These are a few of my favorite things.
But hands down my dearest and best memories are the friends and family who helped to create those memories. My BFF’s Marlys and Gail who lived across the street, cousins who came to visit from California and Michigan. We stay in touch on Facebook and often share those memories.
Television and social media are filled with bad news and more bad news. We seem to be a country more divided than ever before. Perhaps that’s why our summertime memories take us to a happier time, a more relaxed time, and a time filled with family and friends. I often reflect on the past and the present and where-oh-where will the future take us. I fear the world our six-year old great-grandson will inherit.
Through the years, the erosion of the family is said to have started with working mothers, single parents, television, cell phones, and tablets which connect us instantly with world. At the end of the day we fall asleep in our air-conditioned, comfortable homes. I have come to believe that the erosion of the family started when we began building homes without front porches and instead put large patios and decks at the back of the house and then finished off the back-yard with a tall privacy fence. Corrie Ten Boom says this:
Memories are the key, not to the past, but to the future.