Monthly Archive: July 2015

Sweet, Sweet Summer

Me, cousins Claudia and Bubba, and my brother Gerry at Panama City Beach

Me, cousins Claudia and Bubba, and my brother Gerry at Panama City Beach

Summer is the quintessential time machine that brings out the kid in each of us. Come on, you know it does. If nothing else it gives us permission to relax a little and enjoy the extra hours of light in the day. Throw some burgers and hot dogs on the grill and everyone is happy – no long hours slaving over a hot stove. Cut up some watermelon and have a seed spitting contest – much more fun and interactive than video games on a couch. And who can resist a carnival or amusement park where you can get as many thrills as your stomach can stand?

Summer was the only time of year our family took a vacation and we always went to Alabama to visit Mom’s family. It now feels like those visits lasted months instead of weeks; filled with lots of cousins, lots of sunshine, boiled peanuts, homemade peach ice cream and most important, our annual pilgrimage to two places that were heaven on earth – Panama City Beach, Florida and Choctawhatchee Wells in Dale County, Alabama.

The water at Panama City Beach was so warm and clear, and the sand so white and fine, it was an adventure land just waiting to be explored. Much closer to our home base of Aunt Sis’s house, Choctawhatchee Wells’ water was so cold it took your breath away when you first got in. It seemed to take forever to adjust to the temperature and once you did, you never wanted to get out. My Dad told stories about trying to get us out of the water to warm up – we would be shivering, our lips would be almost blue and we would insist we were fine.

During summer even house rules relaxed a bit. We were allowed iced tea with dinner instead of the usual milk; we played outside after dinner (but heaven help you if you weren’t home by the time the street lights came on); we were allowed the occasional splurge on Mr. Softee ice cream and during our trips to Alabama, my parents would get away for an overnight trip without us.

But what were magical to me were the rare times Dad would take us to the beach after dinner (I grew up in Brooklyn, NY so there was always a nearby beach). Dressed not in bathing suits but in “normal” clothes, I remember feeling like such a renegade as I walked along the water’s edge heeding my father’s caution not to get wet. Even today my favorite time of day at the beach is late afternoon, early evening when the crowds are gone, the sun is low in the sky and there is a sense of calm that makes it easy to feel all is right with the world.

Just say the word summer and I smell sun lotion, hear the sea gulls and the waves reaching the beach, and feel the sand under my feet, in my shoes, in my bathing suit….and I love it all. Labor Day is a sad occasion for me since it signifies the end of summer; my only consolation is that Christmas is just a few months away!