This time of year, when spring and summer seem to be tag-teaming, we can never be sure what we’ll be facing. Some days start out cool and comfortable, and end up very warm. Most days, the humidity is not out of control, but sometimes, the build-up to a very summer-like rain shower can be stifling.
For some reason, weather like this kicks my memory banks into overdrive. Smells, tastes, actions transport me back to my childhood, or the time when my own kids were small. Looking around us, we can name thousands of things that have changed since those fondly remembered times. But, it’s the constants, the things that have remained remarkably the same that really “send me”.
Watering the grass for some has become a no-brainer. They have pipes and spouts under-ground that respond to a timer, taking the effort completely out of this task. But at our house, we’re fortunate enough to still be dragging hoses and squirting, whirling mechanical devices around the yard. There’s a science (which I haven’t quite perfected) to placing them just so, and moving them every so often, so as to keep the green carpet moist, while not wasting too much water on the driveway and the street. Something about dodging the spray reminds me of my old jump-roping days. Wait, wait, run before you get splashed. Or, just slow down and get a refreshing surprise. Ha! The smell of the moisture in the air, and the 10 degree drop in the surrounding temperature is universal. It feels and smells just like the yard I grew up in, all those eons ago.
The shaved ice stands that seem to be popping up on every corner are another old thing that has become new again. When I was a teenager working in the baseball concession stand, the ice in the snow cones was chunkier, and there were fewer flavors of sticky syrup, but oh how good they tasted on a hot day. My own kids enjoyed the first shaved ice, and they have happy memories of perching on a picnic table outside of a very small building with their favorite icy treat. Ah, summertime.
Another edible time machine is a hot dog, but only if it’s sold at a baseball game. When our kids were small, I would cook the franks at home, put them in a bun and wrap them in an aluminum cocoon. If anyone at the ball field objected to my smuggling them to the game in my gigantic tote bag, I never heard about it. Today, the ones you purchase after standing in a long line or from a barker in the stands taste pretty much the same, and you still have to contend with mustard and relish that always seem to slide off, and never enough napkins to shield your shorts and/or t-shirts.
Marketers of all sorts of things are savvy to our generation. Muscle cars of today are clever copies of the Mustangs, Corvettes, Challengers and VW bugs of the 60s and 70s. The new models include all the latest safety features, and much better gas mileage. Baby Boomers are suckers for the perfect vehicle to take us down memory lane. Michael J. Fox and his DeLorean have nothing on us.
Twenty-first century houses and subdivisions also appeal to those of us who remember the latter half of the 1900’s. Our fairly new house has tall ceilings, crown molding, gleaming hardwood floors. The cul-de-sac with its wide sidewalks provides a great place for kids and their bikes, scooters and skateboards. Déjà vu all over again.
Folks whose hair is gradually turning silvery still love new things and great adventures. But increasingly, we find comfort in the familiar. Summertime provides lots of opportunities to close your eyes, feel the cool breeze and get a whiff of your youth. We’ll be right there with you.