Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hot Days/Cool Fun

Along with two thirds of the USA, central PA is experiencing dangerously hot days. Yesterday, as I sat on my back porch with my eyes closed trying to catch even a whisper of a breeze, I could hear my neighbor kids and their friends splashing around with a hose, a baby pool, and a blow-up slide.  They laughed, role played, and screamed in delight.

The kids reminded me of Paul who said "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation . . ." [including "blistering hot"?]

As a tribute to Evan and Christian's resilience and contentment, and as a reminder of my own childhood, I am posting a portion of a story I wrote for REMINISCE magazine. 

For my siblings and I, summer vacation afforded a wonderful opportunity to exercise our ingenuity. Before computers and video games, soaring summer temperatures and a garden hose sparked creativity in our young minds.

With no community swimming pool and private pools a rarity, our parents occasionally drove us the four miles to the Methodist campground where we each paid fifty cents to swim for a few hours. Those with the means joined the local golf club which included a swimming pool, but most of us made do at home.

On sweltering days, Mom would let us drag out the hose and squirt each other. We tied it high up on our old pear tree and pretended we had a shower, something many people didn’t have in their homes at that time. I remember shampooing my hair, then rinsing in water cold enough to numb my head.

Turning the nozzle to a fine mist, we created beautiful rainbows. With the water just dribbling out, we wrote our names and drew pictures on the sidewalks, then watched our artwork evaporate right before our eyes.

Soda pop was purchased only at Christmas time, but we never lacked a good cold drink while we played.  Shoving the end of the hose nozzle into our mouths, we sucked on the fine mist. Or, turning the water to a thin stream, we pretended the hose was a fountain like we used at school.

We played many games with just that few yards of tubing. While one child gradually lowered a stream of water the rest did the Limbo, competing to bend backwards the farthest and inch under it. The one holding the hose could never resist dousing the others with the icy water. It’s a wonder the neighbors didn’t complain about our screaming. Stuffing the nozzle into someone’s bathing suit when they didn’t expect it always elicited plenty of whoops and hollers, too.

Wheeling our bikes out onto the grass, we made believe we operated a car wash. With buckets, sponges, old rags, and plenty of dish detergent, we soon had our bicycles sparkling clean. Borrowing our dad’s car wax, we rubbed and polished till the paint and chrome shone like new.

For a little variety we removed the nozzle and screwed on a sprinkler attachment. As the top spun around, the water arced across the lawn. We jumped over it like the hurdlers on a track team. One summer we had a watering hose, a flat length of flexible tubing with little holes all through it to water your grass. The tiny jets squirting along its length tickled our feet and we giggled as we ran through them.

The humid weather and the inviting garden hose even motivated us to scrub the front and back porches of the house. Donning our bathing suits, we gathered up enough brooms and scrub brushes so each of us had something to clean with. We turned work into pleasure and spruced up those porches in record time.

Hot days flew by for us. We stretched our imaginations and cooled off at the same time. Combining a garden hose, a hot day, and four little kids, we whipped up a recipe for fun that didn’t even require electricity.

Stay cool!

©2011 Pamela D. Williams