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SUMMER'S SONG


It’s a Cicada summer full of hot intentions. The temperature is 92 and its evening…a sultry night with whirring fans, exchanging one hot breeze for another. The swing creaks with well-worn songs decades old; bluesy numbers full of yesterday…

My first remembrance of the “swing music” was on my Mamaw’s porch. It was a small Kentucky porch crammed with welcome. The swing seemed always to be in motion scraping through the humid air as it moved toward the steps, humming back until it brushed the roses behind it.

In mid-afternoon I tried to claim a spot on the swing when the adults gathered to dab their days efforts into damp hankies and slow talk. Often I would be relegated to take a nap during their visits. Reluctantly I would pile into Mamaw’s bed, plump with feathers, while a small fan delivered drafts of air across me.

The screen door, full of its own virtuoso, allowed the voices on the porch to drift into the the house and scamper down the hall to the room where I rested. Mostly it was nonsense to a child as they spoke of weather, work ethics, and taxes. But the soft percussion of their distant voices and the ice cubes clinking against frosty tall glasses of sweet tea would soon rock me to sleep.

When I would awake I’d stare at the peeling wall paper, yellowed and curled by the years, as I listened for sounds of my people. The refrigerator door, the swish of a broom across the wooden floor, and green beans being snapped into bowls…and then I’d know the porch congregation had dispersed and the swing would be all mine. Mine. Mine.

I would swing away the late afternoon until it was time to chase fireflies…

Oh, summer you are utterly delicious dripping watermelon seeds and ice cream mustaches down the faces of wide-eyed dreamers…may it always be so.

What sings summer in your world?

13 Comments

  1. Rachel on May 31, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Oh, the memories. I too had a VERY similar great grandmother’s house! Thank God I never had to wait to have the swing. I was great mamaw’s baby and got my way. But, I do remember her in her “moomoo”, fly swatter in hand and a gentle push on that porch swing. I always had to have a bungee cord on as a seat belt as I did in the back of my great pappaw’s truck since I was only about 4 years old. They are both with Jesus now, but these are memories I’ll never forget. Thank you Patsy for reminding me of how wonderful simplicity is. God Bless you!

  2. Paula on May 31, 2011 at 8:11 am

    I remember visiting my grandpa’s faded, pink house in Memphis and hanging out with my Southern-talking cousins. There was a huge, unguarded window fan that we were all warned to stay away from and exactly one room in the house that was kept air conditioned and sealed up – no running in and out. We slept in there at night. During the day we got grimy, sunburned and exhausted picking vegetables from grandpa’s garden, swinging on his gate (pretending it was a horse) and dancing to tunes from an old jukebox he kept in a back room. When we got hungry late at night we ate leftover beans on white bread with catsup (sounds disgusting now but we didn’t have many choices.) Sitting here with tears in my eyes as I remember.

    • Patsy on May 31, 2011 at 9:25 am

      Paula, actually I love the sound of leftover beans on bread w/ketchup. Sounds like a love offering. I grinned at the old jukebox–my husband has one he plays for our grandchildren full of the 50’s music…where you better not step on my blue suede shoes. 😉

      Thanks for taking me to your Grandpa’s house…I loved the visit.

      • Paula on May 31, 2011 at 10:00 am

        A love offering, huh? Well, I laughed out loud at that!! I will have to share that with my sister.

  3. Kimberly on May 31, 2011 at 9:01 am

    What a lovely visual, Patsy. I love the words of your stories. They draw such wonderful imagery. I don’t have such wonderful memories. Something I do remember though, is sitting on our porch swing alone… listening to my 80s pop rock. Also, sitting in the yard swing feeling the summer breeze wafting past me. I enjoyed waving at friends that passed by, whether on foot or in a vehicle.

    • Patsy on May 31, 2011 at 9:31 am

      Kimberly my hubby stations himself on our porch like he’s the Mayor and waves and chats with all who walk by…I love that. A yesterday hospitality in a today man. Now that rocks!

      Hmm, 80’s music? Was Chubby Checkers still around? 😉

  4. Beckie on May 31, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Sounds of children’s laughter and splashing water, bullfrogs and loons calling. Smells of sunscreen, the pine pitch dripping down the trees on hot summer days, hamburgers and chicken cooking on the grill and coffee brewing from the camp. Seeing, if we’re VERY lucky, Mama moose and her calf come to the waters edge munching on water greenery and cooling off and Mama and Papa Loon carrying baby loons on their backs and later, teaching them to dive for fish. Walking along the waters edge picking blueberries for pancakes and coffee cakes. Keeping track of the kids out in Kayaks and canoes or fishing. Floating in tubes just far enough away from the kids to not get splashed. Watching from a canoe or kayak as the children stretch their wings and swimming ability by swimming across the pond to another family members camp and then home again. The knowledge that my children and my cousins children, are spending the same lazy summer days as we grownups did as children. Spending my days with my cousins and watching the kiddos swim, getting lunches and chatting it up, sitting in the sun and soaking up the vitamins. That is my summer song, the sounds from a well loved camp on a pond in Maine. Pure bliss!

  5. o2bme (Leslie) on May 31, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Patsy, your memories sound like mine. To this day, I love taking a nap with the sound of an old fan (it was my Mamaw’s) rotating back and forth. It’s very hypnotic and soothing. When us kids, cousins, etc., stayed with our Mamaw, we too, had to take naps and we would fight over who got to sleep in our Dadoo’s bed. To us, it was a very high and comfy bed, with the best location for the best breezes that gently flowed through the open windows . We always had the promise of having a Black Cow (Coke float) if we were good and stayed quiet during nap time. Outside in the evenings, all the adults would pull chairs in a circle, talking and solving all the worlds’ problems while us kids chased fireflies and put them in mason jars. Everyone always came over to Mamaw’s house after church for Sunday dinner. It definitely was a day of rest, just hanging out with family. I could go on and on with those wonderful memories. Those were some of the best times in my life, summers visiting with my Mamaw and Dadoo.

  6. Frances Poindexter on May 31, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Patsy-you are such a wonderful, gifted writer. I love to read your posts. They bring a bright smile across my face. My grandparents had a porch swing (they were originally from Houston, TX) and I loved to sit on it and rock as we watched the cars drive by. I grew up in their house with them and my Mom, and their house was on main street, but we live in a small northern CA town, Mt.Shasta. I still pass their house, which has been changed quite a bit by people that have owned it since, and remember my summers eating watermelon out back with my cousins, picking cherries and selling them for spending money, watching my Grama pick the weeds out of her beautiful flower gardens, hunched over. And my Papa would always work out of the basement (with outside doors) and get a cup of ice cold water from the sink in his coffee mug that sat up on a small wooden plank.

    Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

  7. Susan White on May 31, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Thank you for your reminder of sweet days from my past, too! Oh how I miss those good old days! Mostly I miss my loved ones who have gone home to heaven, but your words draw a memory that I cherish. And a hope of making similar memories with our grandchildren someday, if God allows. What a blessing this was to me today!

  8. RuthintheDesert on May 31, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Summer is awful in Las Vegas; 115 is just not a pleasant temperature. We all have air conditioning and we stay home after noon if at all possible.

    On the other hand, summer is wonderful at our house. My husband is a teacher, so he’s home in the summer and he cooks amazing food, helps me with the children, and just makes life fabulous.

  9. Marlette Estes on May 31, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    My favorite summer memories are of visits to my mamaw’s tiny house in Phoenix. She’d make a pallet on the floor for my brother and I to nap, covering us with bath towels. There would be music in the background, blending with the voices of my parents, mamaw and papaw. To this day, when I hear Dean Martin crooning “Everybody loves somebody sometime,” I am transported back to that sleepy, safe, contented time.

  10. bobbie enke on July 31, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    when young we went to grandma’s house and she’d send us out to gather apples, which she turned into the most delightful apple dumplings. the best is the long days by the pool at my parents house. now 44 years later the house on Summer Lane ,no lie,is still the gathering place for family and friends. just today my aunt, her husband and grandchild, my 3 cousins,mom and a neighbor all spent time playing, laughing and having the ongoing Scrabble tournament.this summer i am babysitting my 6 year old cousin because my cousin i grew up with wants her daughter to have the same kind of summers we had growing up, so we go to the public pool or mom and dads pool and have lunch daily and spend our days lazily in the sun and water. doesn’t everyone? we also live close enough to nj to get to the beach for numerous day trips.i have mastered lounging in/by the pool/beach it is joy and peace, it is also where i do the prep for our bible study, this years selection is your book titled”Catching Fireflies”, so summery, we love it.and highly recommend it to all the ladies!trying to enjoy every moment that is left as we come into august tommorrow, pool, beach, book club and reading my stacks that are piled everywhere. peace to you, bobbie enke

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