Joys of Summer

Readers share stories of what they enjoy most about summer.
Heart of the Home
May/June 2010

Sights, Smells and Sounds of Summer Bring Happiness - Elinor, Niagars Falls, New York
Brian Orr
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Sights, Smells and Sounds of Summer Bring Happiness

I love to sit on my porch after supper in the summertime and listen to the familiar sounds of the neighborhood children.

Mrs. Wilson across the street has her grandchildren often in the summer, and the squeals heard from them as they jump rope or play hopscotch are reminiscent of the fun I had as a child.

The three young girls down the street keep cool on hot, humid evenings by running through the sprinkler, shrieking with delight. Then there’s Iris, who rides her bicycle tirelessly up and down the block, and Chrissy often comes over to sit with me and chat. To me, there is no sweeter sound than that of children playing.

Chrissy’s stories begin with, "Know what?" Her blue eyes, pudgy nose and deep dimples are priceless, and she never has trouble keeping a conversation alive.

Iris often stops by to visit, too. She’s shy, but always wants to know "why." Why do squirrels like nuts? Why are all the flowers in your flower box red? Why are the neighbors’ kittens always on your porch? I don’t always have the answers, but I try the best I can to answer her.

These days, I don’t have to go any further than my front porch to enjoy summer. I still enjoy the light summer breezes, the fireflies that flit about in the evening darkness, and the aroma of the blooming flowers around me. It makes me happy that I always have tomorrow to look forward to, and I absolutely love the joyous noise of the neighborhood children. Do I get bored? Never! This is my cup of tea, and I wish it were summer all year long.

Elinor - Niagara Falls, New York

 

Summer Means a Day Dedicated to Honoring Dad

Summer brings with it Father’s Day, a day to honor our fathers. I grew up without indoor plumbing in the old farmhouse where we lived, but I had something better. I had a dad who took me fishing and just spent time with me.

My dad was a hard-working farmer who worked from daylight until dark to make a living for his family on our small acreage. His only two forms of recreation were fishing and smoking a pipe. As a child, I often got earaches, and when I did, Dad would pull me on his lap and blow smoke in my ear, which was said to help back then. I don’t know if it helped or not, but I was comforted as he rocked me. I can still remember the feel of the buttons on his overalls as I rested my head against his chest.

In summer, Dad often took me fishing with him. However, most of the time, we caught more memories than we did fish. Winding through a pasture we rented was the murky, muddy Marmaton River. Nestled down in the cool mud beneath the cloudy water were the biggest, scrappiest fish around – carp and catfish. Dad liked to do battle with those creatures, and I liked to go along. It wasn’t that I particularly liked to fish. I just wanted to be with my dad.

We would carry our poles over our shoulders as we walked together, breathing in the sweet smells of summer. Dad always baited my hook and took off any slippery, finny fish I caught. I passed the time making clay pots or stick villages, or floating stick boats while keeping an occasional eye on the bobber. We sat in companionable silence until the little girl in me would begin to chatter or take off running along the bank. Dad would then tell me to settle down, saying I was going to scare off the fish. I’d pout for a few minutes, then I would be sitting at his side, his arm wrapped around me. I always suspected it was more about Dad wanting some peace and quiet than it was the keen sense of the fish’s hearing.

We always had to head home before dark so we could get the cows milked. When it was time to leave, we would hoist the stringer of fish out of the water and count them, playfully arguing about who caught the most and, of course, who caught the biggest. It didn’t matter if we caught many fish or not, we always went home with a smile on our faces and a memory in our hearts. That’s what dads are for.

One of my happiest memories is of the day my dad, sister and I were baptized in a creek near our church. Up until that time, Dad hadn’t been a church-going man, but after that, he rarely missed a Sunday.

Expressions of love are given to dads on the third Sunday each June, a day set aside to show sentiment to our fathers. The idea for creating a day for children to honor their fathers began in June 1910, in Spokane, Washington, thanks to Sonora Smart Dodd, whose father lost his wife in childbirth, leaving him to raise their six children alone.

President Woodrow Wilson supported Dodd’s idea, and Congress passed a resolution proclaiming a Father’s Day in 1914. President Lyndon B. Johnson designated the third Sunday of June to be recognized as Father’s Day in 1966, and it became a national observance in 1972, when President Nixon signed a declaration.

Summer means honoring our dads.

Neoma - Walker, Missouri

 

Quick-Thinking Barbecue

Grilling has always been a favorite summer tradition. As a child, I couldn’t wait for summer so our family could break out the barbecue grill.

On a lazy summer afternoon or a nice summer evening after all the chores were done, our family would grill. The smoky smell of hamburgers cooking over hot coals combined with the sound of the meat sizzling filled us with anticipation of the perfect meal.

One year on the Fourth of July, my husband and I had a barbecue at our house. It was a nice day, with only a few patchy clouds in the sky.

Our double hibachi was set up, the hamburgers and hot dogs were ready to be cooked, and our guests were munching on chips and dip. Just as we were about to light the grill, it began to rain. In no time, it was pouring, and the wind was blowing the rain into the grill.

My husband was determined we would have grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, no matter what, so he placed stacks of 8-inch concrete blocks on the ground, making a table to place the hibachi on. Then he used more cement blocks to build columns on either side of the grill. When he deemed the "walls" high enough, he placed a sheet of plywood over the top.

With an umbrella in one hand and a spatula in the other, my husband stood outside in the rain grilling our meal. Cars driving by the house honked and waved, and some drove by more than once as the rest of us watched from inside the house. It was quite a sight.

Grilling is still one of my favorite things about summer. We have had many grilled hamburgers and hot dogs since that rainy Independence Day celebration, but I don’t think any of them have tasted as good as those from that memorable day when my husband improvised and saved the day.

Kate - Danbury, North Carolina

 

Warm Days Bring Beauty

In summer, a pair of mockingbirds sing over their eggs in the nest they built in our maple tree. Our garden is alive with red buds opening on the azalea bush, and tall green shoots appear on the onions.

New this year are lemon cucumber vines. We marvel at the lantana, as the yellow flower clusters change to orange, then pink, then red.

I can hardly wait to get outside each morning to see what new flowers have opened on my passionflower vines. The blue ones bloom most dependably. The pink ones, with long fringes, cause friends to ask if they are real. The small red variety blooms reliably, but the large red ones are the showiest. The white ones are delicate with bands of lavender and pink corollas.

Of special interest to friends and family who have never before seen passionflowers is a centuries-old legend from South America. The story finds symbolism to the crucifixion of Christ in the corona representing His crown of thorns, the three stigmas the nails, the five anthers His five wounds, and the 10 petals referring to the 10 disciples at the cross.

With all its beauty, is it any wonder summer is my favorite season?

Elaine - Greenville, South Carolina

 

Family Vacations Are Rocky

I don’t know how our vacation tradition started, but some of my earliest childhood memories are of walking through dark doors on hot summer days and descending into the cool, wet climate of caves.

We went to caves all over the Midwest, visiting famous stalactite formations, boating through underground caverns and collecting bits of semiprecious stones. I remember seeing bats hanging upside down above us while fish swam in the waters below us. Sometimes the tour guides would turn off all the lights so we could experience what Tom Sawyer and Becky must have felt when they were lost in the cave.

We took snacks with us because the big drop in temperature affected the blood sugar of some family members, and even in 90-degree weather, we always brought jackets because the cool air breezing up from the depths below made it feel like we were sitting in front of an air conditioner.

Eventually, our vacations took a turn upward, and we began climbing up mountain paths. Nowadays, we either hike up a mountain or down into one. Not a summer goes by without our family jamming the essentials into a backpack, putting on our tennis shoes and heading for the rocks.

Lydia - Kingman, Indiana

 

Pond Was Summer Oasis

My favorite thing about summer is floating in an inner tube, reliving memories of summers past – and all of those memories involve my family’s pond.

I grew up in rural southern Ohio, on property that was perfect for a family of seven boys and one girl. We had a huge front yard, a meandering creek, a small wooded area and, best of all, a pond. Covering a half acre, the pond was fed by two sources: a cold, underground spring and run-off from our neighbors’ cow pasture.

We didn’t care about the run-off, and neither did the pond’s inhabitants, for that summer oasis served as the home for ducks, bullfrogs, respectable-sized bass, and the biggest bluegill south of Columbus. My mom always fretted over the snakes and snapping turtles that also lived in or near the pond, but they never bothered us.

Unfortunately, our pond was not ideal-ly located. It occupied right centerfield of our makeshift baseball diamond, so we set some specific rules. Any batter who hit a ball into the pond on a fly was automatically out, because it was a pain to halt the game, get in the rowboat and paddle out to retrieve the ball. The other rule was that any batter who hit a grounder into the pond could advance no farther than second base, but it wasn’t an automatic double, because a fielder could still retrieve the ball and throw the runner out at second.

With the help of us boys, my dad built a dock at the pond that extended 20 feet out on the right field side, next to two maple trees. Then we added a diving board that Dad got from a closed pool in town.

Every summer Sunday, upon returning home from church, we raced to change into our cut-off jeans. Then we had to eat lunch, which was a double-edged sword because Mom would then make us wait an hour before we could go swimming.

We killed that hour by the pond’s edge, listening to the Cincinnati Reds on a little AM transistor radio, throwing a Frisbee, playing tag or romping with our dogs. Eventually, Mom and Dad would emerge from the house, and the sound of the slamming screen door was music to our ears.

Swimming was restricted to Sundays because that was the only time our lifeguard was available. I’m not sure how much "life guarding" Dad actually did, though. His lifeguard station consisted of a hammock strung between the two maple trees, and every time I checked on him from my inner tube, he had a cold drink resting on his stomach, and both eyes were closed.

When I was in high school, I’d go straight to the pond after a hot day of baling hay. I walked directly to the diving board and dove in, clothes and all. If I was able to get enough distance on my dive, I would pierce the water right above where the cold spring entered the mud, and I will never forget that wonderful feeling.

About the time I’ve reminisced that long, someone will shake me, for I have been floating all afternoon in my inner tube with a cold drink resting on my stomach, and both eyes closed. I guess the saying "Like father, like son" is true.

John - Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

 

Holiday Parade and Club Activities Provide Joy

I guess I’m an oddball when it comes to favorite things about summer. I love to look at flowers, but I don’t like to garden. I’m not a person who likes to dig in the dirt. I also don’t like long vacations. Short vacations, maybe.

I do look forward to the Fourth of July each summer, though. The parades, the noise, the kids eating cotton candy, and the 50 or more people who somehow end up in my front yard to watch the parade and have lunch with me are exciting.

The parade goes right past my house, so my kids would all come home for the celebration. Eventually, they started asking their friends to join us, then those friends started asking others. Sometimes I don’t even know some of the people who show up at my house to watch the parade and eat lunch, but we all have a good time.

I also enjoy summertime because it makes getting out to see and do things much easier. I belong to the group Red Hat Ladies, in which all members have to be 50 or older. Most of us in my group are in our 70s and 80s, with one member who is in her 90s. We’ve gotten together and entered floats in the Fourth of July parade, and we even won a $50 prize on a couple of occasions.

Our group has also toured a brewery, Templeton Rye in Templeton, Iowa, which was famous during the Prohibition days. We’ve gone on a safari, in which we saw a huge collection of real trophy animals – elephants, giraffes, bears and more. We’ve seen jewelry being made, glass being blown, toured a barn that was converted into a house, and visited Dodge House in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

I also get together with friends once a week during the summer months. We go to the church and spend the day quilting, visiting and eating a delicious potluck dinner. We go home tired, but with a great sense of satisfaction for doing something for others. Last year, we made 200 quilts for world relief, 16 for shelters and several for newborns. What a feeling of accomplishment.

Maxine - Exira, Iowa

 

Friends and the Open Road

Each summer, 12 of us take a road trip on our motorcycles. Although we aren’t young anymore, we still anticipate the next trip. A few years ago, we enjoyed a wonderful trip "Out West," as we refer to it, and the beauty of the mountains is calling us back this summer.

The trip started in Sutherland, Iowa, traveling 450 miles on the open road across South Dakota to the Black Hills. It was a long, hot ride, but we loved the beauty of the hills, as well as Mount Rushmore. We particularly liked the pigtail curves, which are a challenge for motorcyclists. Winding southwest through Wyoming and Montana took us through the Beartooth Mountain Range, and we were completely mesmerized by the snow-covered mountains.

For most of our trip, we followed the Lewis and Clark trail. As the terrain grew more and more rugged, I tried to visualize how they survived such a grueling trip.

After leaving the Beartooth Mountain Range, we turned and headed toward Yellowstone National Park. The power of Old Faithful amazed us, and we were delighted at seeing the magnificent grizzly bears, moose and elk that roam freely around the park. A swing north took us down "Going to the Sun Highway" in Glacier National Park, and it was an eye-opening experience. Glaciers lay in the mountain crevices, and streams of melting snow rush down the mountains, leaving beautiful blue-green lakes and pools. It was a sight we will never forget.

We are all in our 60s and 70s, but we’re once again looking forward to the wind in our faces, the fresh, cool smell of mountain air, the sights and, of course, the challenge. We can hardly wait to get back on the open road.

Carolyn - Sutherland, Iowa

 

Enjoys Spending Summer Mornings, Evenings Outside

I always feel a sense of freedom when summer finally arrives after a long, cold, snowy Kansas winter. Finally, it means no more scarves, mittens and heavy coats to encumber me.

During the summer months, my husband and I normally have breakfast out on the deck. Our two dogs, Shadow and Buddee, are not allowed to join us, though, because we’re quite certain they would chase away the songbirds.

We watch for the bright red flash of the male cardinals and the less bright plumage of their mates. The larger blue jays often crowd the other birds away from the feeder, except the yellow finches, which have their own feeder. We have to watch closely to see the tiny hummingbirds that are barely visible as they flutter their wings at lightning speed.

During the afternoons, I prefer to stay inside the house, where the air conditioner keeps me cool and out of the Kansas heat and humidity that summer always seems to bring with it.

Near dusk, we go back out on the deck again, and this time the dogs are allowed to come with us.

Buddee, our golden retriever, is our water dog. I love to watch as he steps into his very own baby pool, one foot at a time, then lowers himself slowly into the water, taking care to keep his tail dry, until his body is submerged in the refreshing water. He sure enjoys cooling off after having played in the yard. However, Shadow, our small, black mix, stays as far away from the water as possible.

The one thing I miss are the colorful flowers of summer, which we can only grow with any kind of success in the front yard, because Buddee either tramples on or tries to devour any blooming thing I try to grow in the backyard.

Ursula - Coffeyville, Kansas

 

Vacation Tradition Continues

For more than 60 years, my favorite thing about summer has been our family vacation in Minnesota. My mother passed away in 1946, and the following year, Dad, my four siblings and I went to West Lost Lake in Minnesota on vacation, and it has been an annual tradition ever since.

That first vacation was a fishing vacation. Now, they are simply vacations. As all of us children grew up, got married and had children of our own, we had to find larger resorts. When we outgrew West Lost Lake, we moved to Pickeral Lake, then to Lake Buchanan. We’ve grown from the original six to nearly 90, so now we stay at Fish Trap Lake.

We divide the family into four teams and play games. One evening we order pizza, and another night we have a wiener roast. All the women go shopping one day, and we play lots of games. On Sunday morning, we have a worship service, complete with singing, devotions, prayer and a sermon. Each year a different family is in charge of the service.

Each year, we have a pinochle tournament, and we even have a traveling trophy that is passed from one winner to another. The trophy has been being passed since 1976.

We love to sit by the water and watch the kids play, or just sit, visit and relax.

I am the oldest person still attending this family vacation reunion, and I enjoy it very much.

Arlo - Rock Rapids, Iowa

 

Green Apples and Salt

When summer rolls around, my thoughts return to that wonderful apple tree from my youth, and my mouth starts to water.

No one knew the name of the apples, but they were large and tart green by midsummer. The tree was at my grandmother’s place, with branches extending over the sloping roof of her chicken house. My sister and I would steal the salt shaker from the kitchen and slip out to the apple tree. We’d climb the tree and jump onto the roof, then we’d carefully reach for the biggest apples, which, of course, were always on the highest branches.

After selecting three or four apples, the ritual would begin. We’d wipe the apples on our shirts to remove the dust, then lick the apple and sprinkle it with salt. When we took that first bite, the crunchy, juicy, salty tartness would flood our mouths. We would close our eyes to fully savor the experience, then we sprinkled more salt on the bitten part before taking another bite.

When one apple was finished, we would begin the process with the next apple, until all the apples were gone.

I’m sure our mother and grandmother knew what we were up to. We had been warned about the possible ill affects of eating green apples, but, strangely, they never bothered either of us in the least.

Before leaving, we were allowed to pick enough apples to fill a bucket, which we took home with us. After some had been made into sweet, mushy applesauce, the rest were ours to enjoy. Lying on the grass in the yard, we would read our library books and feast on those wonderful, delicious green apples.

Now, whenever I see a tree with green apples, I’m tempted to stop and pick a few, wanting to once again enjoy that wonderful summer treat of green apples and salt.

Karen - Sioux Falls, South Dakota

 

Childhood Memories

Childhood memories are what I love most about summer. I remember having the freedom to roam the groves, meadows and back roads without supervision or fear while inventing our own fun. Oftentimes we would pick wildflowers for Mom, and she always acted delighted, even when they were nothing but dandelions, which wilted quickly.

One summer, I tried to resurrect that memory. I picked a bouquet of coneflowers, Queen Anne’s Lace, red clover, gentians and bouncing bet for myself. I added a few stalks of sectioned scouring rush for balance. The effect was all that I remembered, so I put them in a vase and set it on my table, just as Mom had done. I was disappointed when I soon noticed little insects on my table and flying around the kitchen. I wondered if Mom had also been forced to dispose of bug-infested blossoms.

I have no desire to make mud pies again, but I wouldn’t mind wading in the pond, trying to catch tadpoles so I could watch as they matured into frogs. I still enjoy watching fireflies on summer evenings, and maybe someday I’ll find a Monarch butterfly larva, feed it dill and milkweed leaves, and watch the fascinating stages from pupa to butterfly.

My mind filters out memories of cockleburs and what we called itch weed, as well as the unpleasant task of picking strawberries and helping Mom can fresh fruit and vegetables. Those tedious tasks provided family bonding as we worked together, but I didn’t always consider them fun.

The nice thing about memories is being able to pick and choose the ones I wish to preserve, and I choose the happy ones.

Betty - Hartley, Iowa

 

Summer Brings Enjoyment

I love summertime! It gives me the opportunity to do all the things that bring me such pleasure.

During summer, instead of having evening church services, we have vespers on Sunday evenings in the yards of our congregation members. Our vespers always include a potluck dinner, which provides a variety of delicious food. One woman always brings corn on the cob covered in butter. The melted butter runs down my chin as I eat it. Some of the members cook hot dogs and/or hamburgers on the grill, and the aroma makes my mouth water and my stomach growl. I just love food!

I also enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables that are in abundance in the summer. I love to pick raspberries from my backyard or peaches from a friend’s tree, and nothing tastes better to me than a tomato pulled from the vine. Food just seems to taste better when it comes from your own garden.

At festivals and fairs, the smell of food beckons me to the food booths, and the seasonal ice cream truck comes up my hill every day. There could be no better way to end the day than sitting on the porch eating an ice cream bar.

Also, after being cooped up all winter, summer means it’s time to start getting out again. I enjoy getting out with friends, whether it involves taking a walk, sitting on the porch talking, or going to yard sales and flea markets.

Children are another reason summer is enjoyable. Having no children of my own, I welcome the chance to spend time with them. I always volunteer to help with vacation Bible study, and I also attend a young friend’s ball games. I love to see the determined set of his jaw as he goes up to bat, and the big grin when he hits the ball. I cheer for him as loud as any grandmother possibly could, and he appreciates it.

Summer also brings the holiday of celebrating America’s birthday. It’s a great time, with a family reunion, swimming and, of course, fireworks. My birthday is also celebrated in the summer, and I look forward to spending time with friends and family as they shower me with love.

Last summer, some friends bought a boat and took me out on it. The scenery in the Ohio Valley is beautiful, and on my ride in the boat, it was breathtaking to see the magnificent hills while feeling the wind in my face.

I enjoy everything about summer – the fragrant flowers, the glow of lightning bugs, and the warm sun on my back.

I’m also very thankful for the extra hours of daylight, which allow me to do all the things I love.

Judy - Brilliant, Ohio

 

Favorite Season of the Year

Summer has always been my favorite time of year. Although I liked school as a child, it was always more fun to be at home in the summer and not have to follow a schedule.

I grew up on a farm, so there was plenty to do in summer. We had cats and kittens, dogs and goats that I played with, and I also enjoyed watching the chickens, geese, guineas and ducks. It was interesting to see the ducks waddle, single file, down to the pond. We also had horses to ride and cows to bring in from the field to be milked.

I also had a lot of fun riding my bicycle, shooting baskets and swinging on my tire swing. Another thing I liked about summers when I was a child was not having to get up early.

As I got older, I began working in the garden, and I came to appreciate the pretty flowers we had.

After I got married and became a teacher, I looked forward to summer vacations, in which we took a week and traveled somewhere. What great trips we had. My birthday is also in summer, so I guess that’s yet another reason for summer being my favorite season.

Now, as a retiree, I thoroughly enjoy the flowers that summer gives us, as well as the warm, sunny days. I would take summer year-round if I could.

Donna - Red Oak, Iowa

 

God’s Beauty Abounds

When daylight comes to be, I enjoy listening to the rumbling clouds and watching as they turn into beautiful piles of pink cotton-like clouds.

The blazing sun soon pops through the tall pine trees, and as I glance around my yard, I see the blushing roses – God’s masterpieces – as they droop with drops of dew, until they are kissed by the sunshine and perk up again.

Summer brings with it the lovely fragrance of a neighbor’s honeysuckle drifting my way, as well as the beauty of purple and white pansies.

The plush, green carpet of grass is sprinkled with lovely yellow and white daisies, and the huge elephant ear plant in my backyard flourishes with the summer rain and sun.

The bright red geranium my son and his wife gave me as a gift furnishes me with a pleasing view as the buds burst with blooms each day, and the tomatoes hanging on the vines like giant rubies make me hungry for a salad.

Susan - St. Joseph, Missouri

 

Food, Freedom and Overall Feeling of Summer Brings Contentedness

I am very much looking forward to summer, because my granddaughter will be out of school, and we’ll be free to do whatever we want.

My garden will be started, and the tomatoes will be coming on. What more could one ask for than a BLT on toast with mayonnaise? The flowers will also be showing off their blooms, and the grass will be a beautiful emerald green.

I look forward to a tall glass of iced tea after returning home from swimming and sunning ourselves at the pool. Then we’ll fire up the barbecue grill and cook some hot dogs, burgers or steaks.

After a good meal, we’ll hop in the convertible for a ride around town, then we’ll head out to the country, where we’ll watch the sun set.

Upon arriving back home, we’ll put in a good movie and kick back until we’re ready for bed, all the while enjoying the summer breeze as it wafts through the open window, blowing the curtains softly and bringing with it the wonderful sounds of summer.

Soon, we’ll hear the son of the neighbor down the street revving up his new truck as he thinks about the sweet little gal he met recently.

I will sit back with a sigh of happiness and be content ... and that’s what I like best about summer.

Carroll - Mount Pulaski, Illinois

 

Couple Enjoyed Spending Weekends at the Lake

Lazy weekends at the lake were what my husband, John, and I looked forward to in the summer. Traveling to our destination, time seemed to slow down the closer we got to the lake and began to relax. Lake time, we called it.

I didn’t even mind getting up early, hearing the dawn call of the blue jays coming through our open bedroom window. I’d get up quietly and put on a pot of coffee. Then I’d take my cup of coffee to the deck and watch as either the fog lifted or the sun came up, and the lake slowly began coming to life. It was peaceful early in the mornings before the speedboats and jet skis shattered the calm.

Soon, John would wake and join me on the deck. After drinking a cup of coffee and pouring a second cup to go, he would head to the dock with his rod and reel. I enjoyed watching him fish more than I actually liked to fish. Fishing, for me, meant John graciously baiting my hook and removing the rare fish that managed to wind up on my line, as the rod rested between my toes, leaving my hands free to hold the latest book I was reading. After all, I didn’t want to get my hands dirty, then get my book all messy. Fishing was just an excuse for me to read.

As in all Gardens of Eden, we once had a disturbance, and, to this day, I still shudder at the memory.

One morning, I carried my folded-up lounge chair down to the dock, but when I went to unfold it, it was hard to open. I kept tugging on it, and when it finally opened, a big black snake flipped out and slithered across the dock and into the water. I stood there frozen, unable to believe what had just happened.

Finally, I turned and walked swiftly back to the cabin, where John was sitting at the dining table. I must have had a strange look on my face, because he immediately asked what was wrong. I just stood there, unable to talk, then I started crying. I went to the kitchen, splashed water on my face, then turned to face him and blurted out, "Ssssnake, ssssnake."

The worst part about the situation was knowing I had carried that snake right next to my body as I had walked to the dock. You’d better believe I never carried a folded-up chair again without a thorough search first. And, by the way, I still don’t believe that snake was more afraid of me than I was of him!

The part of our weekends I liked best was sharing summer mornings fishing with John in his bass boat in a secluded cove I named Catfish Cove. We were usually the only ones there, and John would use the electric trolling motor at the bow of the boat so it was very quiet. We could hear the birds chirping and the waves lapping at the shore as we lazily circled the cove, John casting his rod to the shore’s edge, waiting for a bite.

As usual, I’d be stretched out in the back of the boat with my nose in a book and a baited fishing rod anchored between my toes. Now and then I’d pause from my reading and look up through the trees at the sky and listen to the birds singing, and I would sigh with great satisfaction.

Linda - Lee’s Summit, Missouri


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