Bargell: Hot fun in the summertime
I was a bit taken aback last week by the number of folks who suggested writing about summer vacation. It seems most of us relish our memories of that last bell on the last day of school, and the prospect of lazy summer days on the horizon. And even though I feel it is my parental duty to begin the countdown of the days remaining until school resumes, thoughts of summer vacation can’t help but bring a smile.
Most of my vacation days were spent in the mountains, watching my dad build a summer cabin for mom’s folks just outside of Boulder. Dad was no carpenter, but he built it, from the ground up, learning as he went. No doubt my older brother was a great help, but being the baby of the family my sole responsibility was to stay out of the way. So, I spent endless hours swimming in the nearby mountain stream, waiting to see how long it would take until my feet were numb. Aunts and uncles would arrive in Colorado en masse, escaping to Colorado from the south Texas heat. When everyone had arrived, we would muster up some grand old family reunions. Many of the aunts and uncles were close family friends as the term was used both loosely and lovingly. What a great tradition – to surround a child with a houseful of adults, any one of which I knew I could turn to for love and support, and an occasional Indian skin burn.
In the evening, the grown-ups would gather to talk and laugh – and somewhere dinner was thrown in the mix. As the night progressed “Uncle” Sam would fire up his banjo, and we would all sing along. No worries about the words, or even the tune for that matter; laughter complemented the music and filled the night air. I do recall there was a nip of Rebel Yell here and there, and sometimes a wink from Dad, who would remind me to do as he said, not always as he did.
I was reminded of this sage advice when we gathered with a few friends on the last day of school. The talk quickly evolved to stories of summers past. The time when one friend managed to “borrow” his dad’s rental car, where it ended up parked, quite accidentally, in the middle of a nearby field. Nostalgic sighs were heard all around when we recalled those TP’ing, bike-riding, baseball-playing days. My husband chimed in the secret to a really great summer was to never get caught – can’t wait for him to pass that advice along to our girls. Most of us gals could recall the unique smell of baby oil and lemon juice that accompanied the long days of frying in the summer sun. I still remember being jealous of friends who had their very own reflective blanket to hasten the bake. There was more, but most of it probably shouldn’t be repeated to protect the innocent (or, more correctly, the guilty).
And what, pray tell, do kids do these days? Probably many of the same things that we did – right after our parents told us not to. When it comes to summer however, it would do me proud to do what my folks did. Work hard, play hard and laugh often. No more, no less.
Cindy Bargell lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters. She is a card-carrying PTSA member, real estate and natural resources lawyer and part-time gymnastics coach. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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