Friday, July 15, 2005

I know what I did last summer. Whine about the heat. Summers were different when I was a kid in northern Michigan. Much cooler, no school. Playing outside in the sand box or the woods. Going berry picking. Occasionally my mother would pack us up and take us to a lake to go swimming. Once in a while the whole family would cram into a car and go on a picnic to the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. I remember the pimiento loaf sandwiches, orange pop, and potato chips. Those were luxuries, my mother had to make ends meet with only my father's truck driver salary.

When I was a teenager we were dairy farming and I hated summers. During haying season I was up at dawn and was in the hay mow stacking hay bales until 10 or 11 at night. Let's just say I hated baling hay- the scratchiness, the damn sea gulls that always pooped on your head out in the fields.

To escape from the farm I would spend a lot of time in the nearby woods, carrying my field guides on flowers, trees, birds, and mammal tracks. Every time I found something new I would dutifully mark the pages. I remember sitting next to the river behind the farm and watching the beaver at work, they would slap their tails on the water when they realized I was there and dive. Later you'd see them peeking out of the water to see if I was still watching. After getting covered in leeches I didn't swim in that river again.

What is your favorite summer memory?

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