Sunday, June 1, 2008

Of Lost Dogs, Drugstore Candy and Lawn Sprinklers

Summer always stirs up strange memories in me. My earliest memories of summer are memories of lawn sprinklers, lost dogs, and drugstore candy runs.

I can remember being a child and getting to play in the lawn sprinkler for the first time of the season. It seemed like it was always SO long before we were allowed to play in the water. Mom was so unfair, all the other kids could have water balloon fights and play in their hoses when the first nice day came along. But we had to wait until Mom said it was "safe". To her, "safe" was a defined principle, much like geometry. There had to be three days in a row over 70 before we could go out and play in the sprinkler. John and I used to watch the thermometer religiously starting May 1st. While it almost never achieved the 3/70 rule untile after Memorial Day, some years, summer was even later in coming. While the pools may have been open, we were still waiting for three days over 70 in a row.

But, always, when it was finally time, we'd race to our rooms and put on our swim suits, grab all our neighborhood friends and have all kinds of fun in the water. I can remember riding our bikes through the water, trying to get through without getting wet (why??), turning cartwheels over the sprinkler itself. We used to have such a blast.

Then I remember walking to the local drugstore to get our weekly dose of sweets. Jimmie's Drugs was at the foot of our street and they had the ultimate candy rack. There were candy cigarrettes, pop rocks, Lik'm aid, and other designer candies, along with the usual gum, suckers and chocolate bars. Jimmie's also had a soda fountain. I remember being fascinated by the soda fountain, though I think I only ever had enough money to get something there one time.

In order to get to Jimmie's, we had to cross a major street, but there was subterranean crossing to make the passage safer. Among the kids there were all kinds of stories about murderer and robbers living in the 'subway' (as we called it), but really, it was fine. No one was down there, but it was dark and musty and a little scary for a child of 6 or 7. We always felt tremendously brave for going through the subway, imagining that we had fought off all the "bad guys". One of the tricks the older kids used to play on the younger ones was to send them down alone after filling them with scary stories and then make noises from the stairwell (which echoed wonderfully). Eventually the little kids would catch on and we'd all laugh about how scared we were.

The other thing I remember about summer is chasing our dog, Button. Button was part beagle and was the same age as me. She had been my buddy since I was 6 months old. Well, at least I thought so. She actually probably just tolerated me.

The cats in the neighborhood delighted in teasing Button. Since our back yard was not fenced in, she had to be put on a chain the the yard. To make it a little more interesting for her, my dad installed a plastic covered steel clothesline for her to run up and down. Every now and then, she would lean so hard against the line, straining for the cats, that she would snap it and she'd be off. Even better, sometimes, she would actually slip out of her harness and take off completely unfettered. These were the time when she was hardest to catch.

I can remember chasing her tail down the street toward Jimmie's. There was a rhythm to her gait and it looked to me like "get-somemore-get-somemore-gotta- gotta-get-somemore". We'd watch her stop to sniff a little here, a little there, pausing a little longer at times so that we would think we might catch up with her, but she was always faster. Finally we would stop chasing her and she would go up to some neighbor we didn't know and introduce herself, rendering herself "caught". But it was almost never us that caught her. She got tired of the game and she got "caught".

Life is kind of like that though. I find that I chase though life looking for things working too hard for the wrong things and God is just waiting to bless me. If I would just take a break and enjoy what I have and wait...

Maybe summer is a time to remind us to take a break. So go turn on your sprinkler, sit on your porch, have a package of Pop Rocks and have a wonderful summer!

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