Summer time brings back memories from my childhood. For instance, I love to sit in my swing in the sun and reminisce about swinging at the playground when my family went camping during summer weekends. My grandparents would take us kids to another playground where we would swing on horse swings.
Swings are one of my favorite things about summer, that’s why I like sitting in my hammock swing when the weather is nice. The time I spend out there is time for me to pray, listen to the music of nature, and just enjoy the breeze. I call my swing my distraction free zone, when I’m looking for writing inspiration. Unfortunately, the Georgia heat makes sitting out in the sun nearly unbearable, unless there’s a breeze blowing in the wind. However, these little pockets of time can be a refreshing break from the sometimes-obnoxious hum of the air conditioner and fans in all three rooms of my house.
Another thing I remember about summer, in my high school years and later on, is sitting in my bedroom reading a braille book and listening to the radio. I’ve always loved listening to the radio ever since I got my first transistor for Christmas when I was maybe seven or eight. As I got older, the radios I received grew larger with tape players, a stereo with a record player and dual tape decks, and eventually CDs. My music listening days are not by radio necessarily, unless you count internet radio, but I have electronic smart devices that can play just about any kind of music I want. This is one of many reasons music is such a big part of my writing life today.
Before I received Braille books to read at home, except for the books my teacher gave me to read over the summer breaks, I listened to a lot of books on tapes and records since I was five. Summer days, before we moved the house close to the welding shop, were spent sitting in the car, with the door open, in the shade, listening to one of three things. 8-track tapes, the radio, or books on tape, when I had them available. I listened to books year-round, and still do, when I don’t have my hands in a book on my electronic braille display/book reader I got from the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, which is s division of the library of congress. Although I got books from the regional library for the blind that served my area, there was something about getting books from the talking book library in Macon Georgia, during their summer reading program, which started when I got my first books at the age of five, and ended right after I graduated high school. Though these books weren’t ones I would have chosen for myself, they were books in my age range. Since I’m writing children’s books today, I whish I could remember some of the books I read back then, so I could download them and relive those reading memories. I will say, that the interesting thing about the availability of books today, versus books today, is that we have a much wider range of accessibility options for reading books. As a blind person, I’m not limited to the NLS books I can download or request from my state library. I can download books from a library for the visually impaired called BookShare. Although there is a set up fee when you create your BookShare account, and an annual subscription fee, some state libraries offer BookShare memberships as part of their library service to patrons. Georgia is one state that offers these services, which I take advantage of on my eReader quite a lot. Aside from these two options, I an read books via Kindle using the eReader connected via Bluetooth and the Kindle app on my phone, I can do the same with Apple books and other reading apps. I also have the option to have Kindle books read to me on my Alexa enabled devices. However, from time to time, whether I’m reviewing an advanced reader copy of a book for a review or reading a book to prepare for a podcast interview, I also receive these books via PDF, which my eReader can translate into Braille, once I put the file on my SD card. This works for most PDF books, but if the book has a lot of graphics, I get a book error, when I try to translate the book into Braille. No matter how many options I have for reading today, to be good writer, I have to be an avid reader.
Some of those hot summer afternoons I’d spend playing in my grandmother’s pool, which was about 4 feet deep, maybe about five feet in the middle. Papa built a deck around it to make it easier for us to get in and out of the pool. Mama got a three-foot pool for the boys and me to play in when we couldn’t go to Mema’s to swim. Mama would encourage me to jump into the pool, to get used to the water, which was often cold at first. I remember one summer when we had a fifteen-inch-deep pool, getting a bad sun burn on the back of my shoulders. When I was little, I could stay in the pool all day, if you’d let me. This happened during the week of vacation Bible school at the church I used to go to, before we moved the house to our new location, near the welding shop. I remember lying in a tub of water mixed with corn starch, before I went to church, to take some of the sting out of the sun bur. This bad sun burn didn’t stop me from loving to go swimming, but today, I can’t stand to stay in the pool for more than 45 minutes to an hour at a time, when back then, I could stay in the pool for two hours or longer and not feel water logged. I got my share of sun burns, but the fun I had in the water was well worth the painful sting, the itch, and pealing the dead skin off my arms.
Before we moved closer to my Mema and Papa’s house and the shop, I remember summer days going to the pond on my grandma and Grandaddy’s land. The pond is still there, but I believe it’s mostly used for fishing today, instead of swimming. I could be wrong, though, since I haven’t been to that house since Grandma passed away when Sharen was about two.
There are a lot of special memories I have about summer. When Sharen gets out of school for the summer, I feel nostalgic for the days when Mama would pick me up on the last day of school. That first day of summer vacation felt like Saturday, when we headed home. I was happy when I walked into our house, because I didn’t have to worry about homework, and I could choose from the books I had in my room to read. I could listen to the radio or read as long as I wanted, with a few exceptions, meal times, bedtime, and when we had to go out to run errands, or we had to go with Mama to work. Whenever I wanted to go in the living room to watch the cartoon my mother rented for us, once we got our VCR, or go outside to play on the swing set I shared with my brothers, I was always happy to put a book down.
As an adult, I find Summer to be such a relaxing time. There are days I simply want to find a comfy chair, whether I’m inside or outside my house, find a good book and read the day away. These days that’s hard to do. At least harder than it was when I was a kid, during my summer vacations, but I can still daydream about Summers when I was a child, and enjoy the memories these daydreams stir up for me.
What memories does the summer season stir up for you?