SUMMER SWEVENS (VISIONS AND DREAMS)
It’s so early that somehow I expect the blackness to be heavy and thick and inky dark. But it’s not. The trees are flat as black paper cutouts, a sfumato mist hovers in the air. I shouldn’t be out of the house. But I am.
I find a soft tussock of grass and first touch it gingerly with my toes. The plants are cool and vertiginous and pliant. I hesitantly sit and then in a few more moments, luxuriously stretch out. My eyes wink. Then they flutter. I remember.
Not to the lake. Not to the pool. Not to the pond. Not for us! Pushing through the screen door, we are bathing suited, our bare feet burning on the pavement. Hot enough to fry an egg on it? Should we try? Jump on the grass where it’s cool then!
We squeal as suddenly a waterfall of what feels like icy tears cascades from above, pelting and peppering us. Just as quickly the jit jit jit of water arcs back and above, hitting the cherry tree with spray before coming around to us once more. We are like the tigers at the circus leaping bravely through flaming hoops! Jump in, jump out, jump in!
Wrapped tight in damp towels, double-sticked grape popsicles clutched in our fingers, our tongues proudly, and perhaps permanently, purple.
The Ice Cream Truck
Did you hear it? I heard it! Run run run!
Arrive with your dollar clutched wet and tight in your fist. Wait and wait and wait. Will it ever be my turn? My turn! With a satisfying katchoonk! the tiny door opens and a whoosh of arctic blasts us back almost across the street. Bold as Robert Peary himself, the white shirted ice cream man nonchalantly thrusts in his arm into the cold, chips away at the ice floes and pulls out buried treasure: King Cones, Chocolate Eclairs, Strawberry Shortcakes, and Eskimo Pies.
Solemnly I hand him my doubloon in exchange for real jewel.
Like a velvet toppered Olympic equestrian, I am tall in the saddle, proudly astride my green, banana-seat Schwinn. Around and around the circular drive, faster and faster and faster. This is fine, but you and I have a plan, don’t we? You hop on the bike, I’ll clip on the roller skates. Tie the jump rope to the back bar and around and around and around, swing free, swing fast, swing out! DO. NOT. LET. GO. But of course, I do!
A run and a leap and a flying cannon ball right from the board, stretching high enough to touch the trees. There is a moment—just a moment!—where I’m sure that I’m truly taking off, a hovering second before I plunge deep dark and down to the very bottom. My eyes open with a start. How could I be here? I was sure I could, I knew I could, I thought I could fly.
My head bursts through the surface, water streaming from my nose. But when I breathe in I am suffused by the alluring scent of hot dogs hissing and splitting their casings as the roast on the grill. Add mustard and onions and chips. Sneak bites of brownies from the bottom of the freezer. Orange soda, red pop, or rock ’n rye?
My Dad says, “Get me a cold one.” I do, adding ice to his glass of beer.
The day drags on thick and hot as pot of pea soup. But for once, we don’t want it to linger. For this we need the night. Hour after hour we wait, the air scorching and the hot sun pressing against us. Eight thirty and then nine? Is it dark? When will it ever ever be dark enough?
Count three stars in a sky that spreads wide like an ear to ear grin and it’s finally time. Hold out your hand and it’s solemnly lit. With a sibilant swish, a crackle, a blaze and the sparkler lights up, a universe igniting in my hand.
Over too soon. Another! Oh please! And another!
Slowly I open my eyes. The light is edging the sky, becoming soft, changing everything around me imperceptibly but surely, as it is with growing children. I hear the first tweet of the early morning. A robin. I see her as she caroms around the trees, swooping and gliding, a skater on air. A ruffle of leaves and she’s momentarily disappeared. Inside the bush her hungry babies wait in a nest she’s carefully lined with twigs and feathers. I glance at my house, one I’ve lined with words and books.
A fantasia of early morning spreads like a fan to cool the rising heat of day. Like a sunflower, my face follows the golden orb as it moves across the sky. I sigh. Because at last, at long last, once again, it’s summer.
Much warmth and happiness to you all.