Who Made The Summer

17 Sep

One of the pictures recently sent to me by folks, after they cleaned the basement out. Now that’s how we’re supposed to remember summer, right? Drinking from the hose, limbs all exposed to the sun. A big, tacky, inflatable pool wrecking the grass underneath. We do our best to give our kids the kind of summers that we hope we can keep remembering. The kind of summer in that picture down there. They try to legislate it all away, but they have no power against the family.

“Papa, can I have a drink?”
“Of course you can, sweetie.”

In 1978 the water from the hose tasted like metal, and it didn’t scare anybody. Now it tastes like water, but he’s told that there’s something dangerous in the hose – don’t give it to your children. Lead, they say. We’ve been 35 years filtering and cleaning and protecting and irradiating the water for you, so now it isn’t safe because nobody thought about the hose.

“One day, someone will tell you that you can’t. Someone will always tell you that you can’t.”

“Will he be right?”

“In a way – in his way he will think he is right. In his way he will know he is right and he’ll have numbers and articles and so-called facts to make sure he keeps knowing how right he is. But his way is only really there for making you scared of something, and you can be as sure as the grass going brown that if he has children, they drink from the hose when he is out here telling you not to.”

“What does he think is wrong with the water?”

“That it is full of things that you can’t handle without getting sick, and that he can make those things disappear by making you feel lousy about them. He thinks this because he doesn’t know that you come from the same place as the water, or that you both come from the same place as the summer.”

“And my brother, too. Where’s that place, Papa?”

“That’s a tough one to answer, sweetie. I only know it’s all the same, and that even if I never know it all the way, I come closest when I’m closest to your Ma.”

In 1978, Mother clipped a shirt to the line and didn’t hear the conversation, because in 1978 the conversation didn’t happen. She just held open the patio door, and put the boy out there to find the summer in the business end of a garden hose.

9 Responses to “Who Made The Summer”

  1. vanderleun September 17, 2011 at 5:28 PM #

    Masterful.

  2. Jewel September 17, 2011 at 5:45 PM #

    If you drink from the hose, you will think wonderful thoughts and share them.

  3. Jewel September 17, 2011 at 5:51 PM #

    We have a chiminea in our back yard. It sits in the dead circle where the redneck swimming pool sat all summer, refreshing ourselves and the neighbors, and wasting gallons of cool, refreshing water from the hose. Now it’s nigh on autumn, and colder than normal for mid September, and right now, the fireworks are booming because our borough celebrates East Petersburgh Day every third Saturday in September.
    I’m not sure what we’re celebrating. Far as I know our town hasn’t been an historical site, other than Haydn Zug’s restaurant, which is staffed by ghosts from at least two centuries back. Otherwise, the food is over the top expensive and you get a generous side of ambience, or, as they say proper, Om-bee onss.
    We lit our chiminea up and sat around and roasted hot dogs and planned for autumn, and enjoyed the warm light as the Amish buggies quietly clipped by slowly, adding to the om-bee-onss. Later, after the fireworks, there’s a sock hop at the park.
    God, I love my country.

  4. Andy September 17, 2011 at 6:10 PM #

    You drank from the hose, didn’t you?

  5. Jewel September 17, 2011 at 6:48 PM #

    Still do. So do the kids and husman, especially after mowing what’s left of the yard.

  6. Buck September 17, 2011 at 8:55 PM #

    I have some pics of SN3 and The Second Mrs. Pennington drinking from the garden hose on a hot summer’s day in Ra-cha-cha, NY, circa 1998. I might have to dig those out and post ‘em in the near future, coz they are wondrous.

    Good stuff, Andy.

  7. Nicole September 18, 2011 at 7:54 PM #

    Excellently done.

  8. Andy September 20, 2011 at 1:42 PM #

    Good stuff, indeed, Andy. I remember a Summer so hot and dry in NW Louisiana that the ground at our place had cracks at least an inch wide (probably 1/4″, but I was a kid). I must have been about 8 years old, so it was probably ’67 or ’68…doesn’t matter.

    My Mother, and her good friend, Ms. Carolyn sat in our air conditioned house with the doors locked, while my siblings & Ms. Carolyn’s children played in the sweltering 110+. I remember my brother and myself standing at the door…banging for all we were worth, and shouting, “We’re thirsty! We’re thirsty!”

    And, I remember Mom not even unlocking the door, but shouting back at us, “We’ve got a water hose!”

    I guess as I got older, I came to realize that both Mom, and Ms. Carolyn needed an oasis from their combined 8 children…and the hose would have to suffice if we were to live. And, I’m pretty sure there were times that the two adult ladies really didn’t mind which way it came down.

  9. Andy September 21, 2011 at 8:01 AM #

    See, now that’s a good story, Andy. Why you’re not blogging things like that is beyond me.

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