A childhood summer is laced in magic. It is like a season within a season. The first days of a silenced alarm clock reflect hours oozing with laziness and that great joy of sleeping in, sleeping over, and sleeping between spring and fall. It is hard to confine images and moments of summer to one span of my life. As a youngster, my friend Frankie and I would ride the city bus to the (old) Children’s Museum. Sporting my seahorse pin–which was the logo back in the late sixties, and my membership card, off we would go, eagerly leaving Brightwood behind for the wonders of the world. My mother, employed at Indianapolis Life Insurance Company, worked right across from the museum and I thought this was just the coolest! You know what they say: location is everything, especially when your mother can look out her window and see the coming attractions. We were practically famous!
Another hot summer day would find us getting a free bus ride from our favorite driver, Elmer, and we would ride to the (former) Indianapolis Zoo. We were eager to ride the train, feed the goats, and peer into the mouth of a big fiberglass whale which overlooked the pond. We owned the world and this was our own personal safari. Kickball games in the alley, collecting pop bottles to trade for penny candy (yeah, there really was such a thing) at Bultman’s Grocery, and building go-carts that never worked: this was the essence of summer in the city. Everyday was an adventure and I do not believe we ever uttered the words “I’m bored.” For us there was never enough daylight to pack in everything our creative and imaginary agendas held. Summer was in itself, bliss. We asked for nothing more except one more day to play.
Then the day would come when I would be whisked out of the city to visit family in Grant County. My grandfather was a farmer and my life of sirens, traffic on East 30th Street would melt into the drone of a John Deere tractor, clucking chickens, and the hum of the milking machine as Grandpa tended his herd of dairy cattle. My summers of urban chaos and family drama would be soothed by fields of stars and soybeans…all of those summer days would shape this little girl who was blessed by two worlds. It was in this span of time that the author in me was born. The country would still the the noise of the city so I could hear the stories of my soul. And who would have ever dreamed that the little girl, who dreaded school and lived for every day it was closed, would find her life’s work behind the teacher’s desk? Life takes odd turns, does it not?
And here it is…summer once again and I look over my shoulder and ponder life. Thank you for joining me in the process. May your summer be laced in magic. Oh…and don’t forget to go play.