Childhood Summers

February 7, 2008
By Erin Perry, Canton, PA

All of the summers of my childhood seem to blur together like a hazy, unclear dream. However, there are a few distinct memories that I can recall on a moment’s notice. I will always remember how excited I would get on the last day of school before the first day of summer vacation. I delighted in knowing that I had an entire sunny season stretched out in front of me, and I enjoyed the freedom that came with summer vacation. I spent my summers at the local pool with all of my best friends, and when we were not swimming, we were busy making up dance moves to our favorite songs. I also spent a lot of time with my family on those lingering summer days. My mom, dad, brother, and I always had so much fun together. Between picnics and vacations, we had plenty of time to make precious memories, memories only the four of us will ever understand.
Looking back, the summers of 1998 and 1999 were the most memorable summers of my life so far. Those summers did not contain numerous action-packed events, but they did include innocent, little moments that added up to two remarkable vacations. These summers helped me learn about life and, more importantly, about myself. They embody innocence and a sense of belonging and I will always treasure them as dear childhood memories. My house was located right on Main Street in Canton, Pennsylvania, so I was right in the middle of all the neighborhood action. I lived to wake up every morning and walk outside into the warm summer sun to find my friends already outside playing kickball. I can close my eyes and feel the icy pool water of the Canton Pool on the first day of summer. A feeling that engulfed me, wrapped around me, and was impossible to escape. It was a feeling that instantly froze all of the blood in my body. I can see swarms of tiny bodies splashing around in the vastness of the clear blue water. I can see brand new swim suits of every color, brighter than the June sun. I can still smell the coconut scent of the sunscreen our parents insisted we lathered on each time we stepped outside into the scorching sunlight. Sunscreen has a smell that instantly triggers my mind to think about summer, even in the dead of winter.
My very best friends for those two summers were Megan, Maddy, and Sandy. I had just moved to Canton from Granville Summit and was anxious to make new friends. I was thrilled when they wanted to include me in all of their exciting activities. When I think about it hard enough, I can faintly hear the joyous laughter we all shared during those summer vacations. The sound resonances through my brain and takes me back to a happy time when nothing seemed to matter. I can picture the four of us dancing wildly in my room to the latest Spice Girls song. We often occupied our time playing “house” in my spacious attic, while making up lives that we wished to one day have. I can picture the bright blue of the sky as we rode our bikes through town. We were a venturesome bunch, and our bikes were the quickest way to do embark on the latest adventures. The whir of the bikes wheels hummed in my ear, almost sending me into a trance until a neighbor’s lawnmower disturbed my peaceful state. Today, it is easy to be sent into one of those same trances as I dreamily think back to those endless summers of my adolescence. I am always snapped back to reality when I hear the sound of the school bell, just like those obnoxious lawnmowers. Time certainly does not slow down for anyone.
Summer, without a doubt is my favorite season. I owe my love of summer to my family, who helped me enjoy the wonderful occasions when I was so young. A few specific memories that I cherish are family picnics. In my opinion, there is no better way to spend one’s time than with family and food. There is nothing like the smell of hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill mixed with the laughter and conversation of a happy family. Summer almost did not seem complete without the chilling taste of lemonade dancing on my tongue or the scent of Citronella candles burning to keep insects away on those lazy summer nights. After we were so full with various salads, hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, watermelon, lemonade, and soda, we were so sure we could not fit one more thing into our stomachs. Despite our doubts, we always roasted marshmallows over a blazing fire to make s’mores. The pleasing taste of these delectable treats is one memory that I do not wish to lose. My favorite holiday has always been the Fourth of July, and I looked forward to it every summer. My mom, dad, brother, and I piled in the car and drove to the little town of Ralston where my Aunt Gale lived. As a young child, it seemed like her backyard went on forever and it even included a swimming pool. It was the ideal setting for a picnic. We all ate incredibly delicious food, and my cousins and I swam the day away. My crazy uncles would always set off fireworks, and we played various games like waffle ball, football, and Frisbee. The weather was almost always enjoyable, with the temperature just right and the sun very bright. When it was almost dark outside, we would all jump in our cars and head to the Wheel Inn Club for fireworks and other festivities. A few of my uncles were in charge of setting off the fireworks so we always got there really early for a decent seat right up front. When it was dark enough, we would set off our own fireworks. We would dance around with our sparklers, clearly the happiest kids in the place. As soon as the real fireworks started, we would all gather on our fluffy blankets and marvel at the fantastic sight in the sky. The brilliant colors that worked together like a vast masterpiece always thrilled me. It was the perfect combination of an amazing sight with incredible sound as the reverberations bounced off the mountains surrounding the area. As I watched the fireworks explode in the sky, I decided that it was the perfect ending to a wonderful day.
It is very easy to see why I am so intrigued with summer. All of the memories of my past summer vacations will always put a smile on my face. The thrill of my first dive into the icy pool, the heat coming off the tennis courts on the hottest of days, and the happiness I feel when I step into the warming sunlight are only some of the reasons why I love summer so much. Or, maybe it’s all of those family vacations, various picnics, hundreds of sleepovers, and the feeling of going barefoot through freshly cut grass. I can always look back and faintly hear the sound of the music playing at the while I lazily swing on my front porch, the same songs hour after hour…day after day. It is always sad to watch summer progress, and before I know it, its back-to-school time. Eventually, the leaves change, the temperature drops, the days get shorter, and I shed my summer skin. As sad as it seems, there will forever be another summer right around the corner. I am always optimistic that the next summer will be better than the last, but I have come to realize that nothing will compare to the summers of my childhood, especially the summers of 1998 and 1999. Nothing will compare to the magic of summer.

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