After Labor Day, no matter the weather, it is often the closing of summer. Working full-time does not have its summer breaks but I do tend to take the evenings as a time of reflecting. I sit out on my balcony as the neighbor kids are playfully chased by their canine counterpart through the sprinklers in the community lawn. The choir of cicadas and the sticky air surround us. The harsh, Arizona sun finds its way beneath the horizon and the earth feels the relief. There is something about hearing children’s laughter that banishes the world’s chaos from the mind – just for a moment. The cold drink in my hand is not enough to keep my body cool, however, so I am about to make my way back inside – ponder my thoughts in the air conditioning. As I’m about to gather my chair I think, “It is so hot out here, why are they running around? Shouldn’t they be inside? They’re going to get overheated!” It is like one of the neighbor boys heard me. He takes his water bottle, dowses himself with it, wipes it from his brow, and gets back in the game (now tug-o-war) with the dog.
When I was an elementary schooler (still in Arizona!) my younger brother and I would spend our summer evenings outside. We, too, would run through our backyard sprinklers with our German Shepherd at our heels. Dad would be an audience member every now and then with his newspaper and a fold-out chair from the sunroom. We would hop on our Razors and speed through the cul-de-sac just shy of one of the neighbor’s backing out on their driveway on the way to dinner. We would drink out of the hose, make decadent mud pies, and mom would pop outside and treat us with popsicles in the grass.
“Don’t run with that stick in your mouth!”
With cool baths, a story before bed, and clean sheets to snuggle in, we would fall asleep fast – just to do it all over again tomorrow.
It is funny how we get when we become older. I’m no seasoned historian but I’m definitely not wearing a backpack or a size 4 shoe anymore either and I already can see the difference in myself. When the weather is less than pleasant, so is my patience. I grow fond of the air conditioning, the comfort of my couch, and my memorized Coffeehouse Beats playlist. Sweat is not my friend and neither is mud beneath my fingernails. Oh, but once upon a time they were. The water I prefer is infused with lemon, cucumber, and mint but not long ago the water from the hose was just what I craved.
Now I am taking a backward journey. I am gathering the eggs with my niece, Paisley, at my parent’s farm while the sweat drips from my hairline. I wipe it away and continue with Paisley as she looks around the hay for an egg she may have missed. I could be inside for a Friends binge – but Paisley will only need me by her side for so long until she makes full sentences and brings me eggs by herself. We then make our way toward the grass and toss the ball toward the ever-patient Basset Hound. The wet dirt has now occupied Paisley. The familiar mud makes its way under our nails and we use it as a bragging point for Grandma on how much fun we had.
With cool baths, a story before bed, and Grandma’s clean sheets to snuggle in, we fall asleep fast.
And we’ll do it again tomorrow.
Missed the first post in this series? Right this way.