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Take some time out to make memories, appreciate summer

Does it strike you as odd that the kids' summer softball and baseball leagues ended the week of Memorial Day? Necessary, nonetheless, but still a little ironic?

Families have to scurry off on vacation so they can rush home to rush some more.

The school kitchens haven't cooled down from the last day of school, and Thomson and Briarwood are getting ready for football and talking about softball, and even getting ready for basketball.

THS office secretary Joyce Shurling was still busy days after students and teachers had left for the summer, and she will be back to school before most of them return from vacation. She'll be back July 18. She said the summer break used to be about 12 weeks. Now, it's about five weeks, she said. And she seems OK with that.

This newspaper's activities calendar is stuffed with things to do, and many of those events are booked full.

The idle days of summer are anything but idle. As with most change, something is gained. But there's a certain loss to consider.

I love activity as much as the next person. Give me a county fair, a Chautauqua chicken dinner and a family reunion. Yes, hand me a hoe and let me march through the gray sand of a pickle patch. Let the straw bales wear holes in my shirt and jeans. But then give me time to forget time, to find a fishing hole where the fish won't bother me, to watch strawberries give way to mulberries, then to raspberries and blueberries.

I can't fix the dates of my fondest memories of summers past. The moments weren't planned, but just happened. They happened on days that ran together, with Memorial Day and Labor Day guarding the gates of summer.

They happened when Grandpa sat on a steel lawn chair beneath an oak tree, put down his newspaper for a couple minutes, and told me stories of a town that his grandfather founded and which time had erased.

They happened when I chanced upon groundhogs nibbling at crops, when carp pulled moss from the still surface, when turtles seemed to go nowhere and butterflies seemed to dart everywhere.

The memories happened when I scoured roadsides for pop bottles to redeem for two cents. Some were too old to cash in, so I just saved them.

The memories happened when I drove my sons to the blueberry farms to earn a few dollars for a morning's work.

The memories happened when my son used my collection of old shotgun shells to clear out my collection of old pop bottles. When I stopped laughing I punished him by taking him to watch carp and to show him where a town used to be.

The moments happened because I did not have to rush somewhere at a given moment to do something organized and specific.

Maybe that teenage freedom and isolation cost me a few ballgames.

But the compensation is the ability to look at everything and to appreciate it even more than I once did the butterflies.

Right now, I'm ready to appreciate summer.

Web posted on Thursday, June 09, 2011

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