I had not eaten a popsicle in years when a teacher at Emma’s preschool handed me one. This, of course, was several years ago. Emma is now 11. I was delighted by the childhood memories that suddenly rushed through me. One of the wonderful things about having children is that it brings memories of your own childhood back into your life. Watching Emma eat her red popsicle and enjoying one myself brought on so many images of summer that I couldn’t resist writing about them.
For me, it was banana popsicles. Oh, how I loved them. And ice cream—any flavor. Especially after a softball game, sore muscles, and companionship of teammates made it even more special. I remember
the smell of my catcher’s mitt and the smile of my friend Michelle. The chants of “Comebatta, come batta, swing!” The dusty bases. Sweaty practices. Long walks to the fire hall where practice was held—along with the big summer event—the Raccoon Township Volunteer Firemen’s Fair.
My favorite part of the fair was seeing my friends from school that I had not seen for most of the summer. I can still hear the whir of the ferris wheel and the roar of the tractor pull. And I can still
smell heated engines and burning oil at one end of the field and the greasy French fries, cotton candy, and home made pies at the other end. I can still see Mom handing out our tickets and sitting in the bingo tent all night long. Every night. Catching up on gossip. Winning a little money or a door prize. Going home late and falling into bed. Sleeping in until 10. Going for long walks and bike rides along our steamy gravel road. Hiking up and down the grassy hills. Exploring the shaded, deep forests. Discovering moss, mushrooms, and snakes. (There was always one good snake story each summer.) I remember: Running in open fields. Lying in the sun and listening to the radio. Going to the pool in Aliquippa. The sound of splashes and giggles. Lifeguards’ whistles and yelps. Going to the river to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July. The smell of my mother’s lilac bush and the way it grew wild to scratch against the window.
I remember long Sunday mornings with Grandma in a hot, little red brick country church that sat on a reservoir. My sweaty legs on the pews. Chewing sticky candy to help pass the time. Long-winded Presbyterian preachers. The longing for it to end so that I could go outside and gaze at the water and run barefoot on the lawn. The same lawn on which I would I would marry my husband. The same man who is the father of my children. One of whom’s teacher handed me a popsicle and sent me journeying into the past.
Summertime. I hate to see it go.