Monday, August 24, 2015

Vacation Day #5

What's the best summer you've ever had?


Stephen G Parks said...

Well, in May-June 2012 I took some sailing courses in Cape Town, South Africa. Ended up with my Royal Yachting Association Day Skipper certification. Then I moved back to Canada, bought a 26’ sailboat and spent the summer wandering between Kingston and Brockville, Ontario (Where Lake Ontario becomes the Saint Lawrence River) living alone on the boat and writing. When everything worked that was pretty idyllic, days at anchor were 3000 word writing days. (alternately, it was really stressful - boat was old, and would occasionally try to sink, slowly). Good and bad, I’d do it again.

Kitty said...

I spent a lot of time on Canandaigua Lake (NY) as a kid. I went sailing and learned how to water ski, and I swam across the lake one day when I was 12. However, I didn't enjoy it because the night before at dinner my grandmother told me about eels in the lake. It terrified me to think I might come in contact with them, so as I swam across the lake, I'd periodically go underwater looking for the eels.

Marc P said...

One summer when I was seven years old I told God that when I died and went to heaven I wanted to be seven years old. So I will stick with that one... haven't gone back and altered the deal as yet.

Donnaeve said...

Best summer(s) ever...back when I was a kid, we took an annual trip to Maine, and stayed at my grandfather's house in Auburn for two to three weeks.

We had our "traditions." It wasn't a complete trip to Maine unless we went swimming at Old Orchard beach, Sebago Lake, and Reid State Park (where the water was ALWAYS too cold). It wasn't a complete trip unless we ate at the Cole Farm restaurant, or stopped by one of the many shacks alongside the road for a lobster roll.

Susan Bonifant said...

I can remember a lot of best things that happened in a good summer, but the most essential was the last summer I spent with siblings and friends on Martha's Vineyard as a teenager. Under the warm sun by day and the moon at night, fire blazing through the ocean mist, we were as joyful and mischievous and free as beings can be.

I spent long moments looking at that vast night ocean, thrilled and afraid. But it was there on that beach, surrounded by all that "out there," that I fell in love with all the suns and moons of "right now" life forever.

Decades later, when I was the mother of teens myself, I had everything I needed to honor the spirit and awe of young people, just by having a memory.

Mary said...

Wilderness ranger in Idaho, 1992-1995. Chopped huge trees out of the trail with a pulaski, hiked hundreds of miles with a 70 pound backpack, sat in hot springs, fell in love with a blue eyed man in a cowboy hat.

Unknown said...

Childhood summers are idyllic. At least in our memories.

I went to England with my dad when I was seventeen. Had a lot more freedom than if mom was with us. First and only time, out of all the times I've been over the pond, that I went to London and did touristy stuff. Met my cousin Sarah, a couple of years younger than I and I explained the facts of life to her.

HA! No idea what I was talking about. She was warped for life.

Anonymous said...

Pretty much all the summers I had on the Atherton Tablelands. Stinkin' hot, but with three lakes to choose between for swimming, and myriad creeks and rivers...ah, I miss QLD! And then corned beef silverside sandwiches for after, when you were so hungry it felt like you were about to break in half.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

No best summer but many favorite summer scenettes through the years:
biking to the beach for a swim (and check out the boys) after chores,
canoeing with family on the twisty-windy Zumbro River,
helping a crofter "fetch" a mama sheep from among the gorse and heather alongside a tidal pool on the Isle of Mull,
weeding Mom's flower garden while Dad rests at the picnic table nearby,
exploring Mesa Verde and the cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people with my kids
and eating breakfast on the porch at Pier 4 in Alma, WI right next to the noisy railroad tracks whose many trains created lulls in conversations.

Elissa M said...

I like to think my best summer is always the current one, and if it's in any way a stressful summer, it will get better.

Still, fall has always been my favorite time of year (so summer always "gets better" because it leads into fall).

Kitty said...

Elissa wrote: Still, fall has always been my favorite time of year (so summer always "gets better" because it leads into fall).

Amen, sister! I couldn't agree more about fall :~)

Anonymous said...

All my summers spent with my grandfather and aunt. Possibly one of the best was the year Dad bought me a Shetland pinto pony named Bimbo. I went out to feed the calves and could hear him nickering in the barn. I kept telling my aunt, "That's a pony!"

"What pony?"

"I can hear one in the barn."

"No, that can't be a pony."

Bimbo ruined the surprise because supper was later than he was used to. Dad refused to buy me a saddle at first because he wanted me to learn to ride the pony not the saddle.

Many a mile was made on that wonderful pony who lived to be 30 years old and never met a kid he didn't like.

In other news, I've figured out why I'm fat. It's those danged carrots.

Donnaeve said...

..."when you were so hungry it felt like you were about to break in half."

Great description W.R.

Julie W - those prairie dogs were a hoot. Loved how they were all lined up, mouths chomping in synch.

LynnRodz said...

When you've lived as many summers as I have, you have to think about this for awhile. Funny, but two of my most awful summers came popping into my mind immediately vying for first place. I'll have to answer this one later.

Or maybe I'll agree with Elissa because autumn is my favorite time of year, as well.

Colin Smith said...

As some of the others have said, summer isn't my favorite season, though it's begun to grow on me. As for a favorite summer... that's tough. There was the summer back in 1982 when we went to Ireland for a couple of weeks to stay with my aunt, uncle, and favorite cousins. My uncle is a (now-retired) Church of Ireland minister, and at that time he lived in a large rectory with multiple staircases and a snooker table in the basement. Such fun, hanging with the cousins (one of whom was really into the TV show "Fame"), visiting family... And then there's that bittersweet summer just before going off to university, spending time with friends, grasping tightly to what's left of the past, yet excited about the future--a new city, new friends, living away from home, being at university.

Good times! :)

Adele said...

When I was 12 my best friend and I were allowed to go anywhere we wanted on the buses, and every Saturday we'd head out first thing in the morning and crawl home, exhausted, in the late afternoon. It was the summer of '67. We were too young to get caught up in drugs, but we went to all the be-ins and we haunted the trendy hippie part of town, fingering hand-beaded necklaces in funny-smelling little shops with beaded curtains and long-haired shopkeepers in embroidered clothes. We'd go to the lawn in front of the courthouse where all the demonstrations happened, very aware that our parents wouldn't want us to be someplace where there was so much shouting going on. We'd go to a movie and stay and watch it again, and again, until the management chucked us out. And sometimes we'd head out again in the evening, and go to a concert. We saw the Monkees and the Association. It was a great summer.

Anonymous said...

Totally off topic. I just spoke to my banker in Texas. It was so danged nice to speak with someone who sounded like home.

I'm thinking of calling more frequently with problems just to get my accent fix.

Anonymous said...

I was looking for some other information on Janet and came up with this odd bit. Who the heck knew Janet was a revenant? I guess that explains why she so good. A century plus of experience.

Anonymous said...

Favourite summer? Wow.

When I was young, we would spend two or three weeks each summer at relatives. I loved staying with my grandparents - they were the spoilers. One summer, I spent that time with my other grandmother, my mum's mother - without my sisters. What I remember most that time was I'd somehow gotten gum in my hair. My grandmother spent probably hours patiently working it out. That was the time we bonded. She passed away in 1978.

Once all three of us kids were old enough, we went camping with my parents 2 weeks each summer. Camping was good. Even on rainy days, which were spent in the tent trailer, playing cribbage.

Once I got out of high school, summers became more memorable, less run-together. My first year, I took a 6-week French immersion course in Saskatoon (yeah, I know. Saskatoon isn't French. But all the students stayed in a dorm and spoke French all the time.) It was my first time away from home like that. I made new friends, I had many new experiences, learned a lot, and just generally had fun. That was the first time I ever felt free.

The next summer sucked.

The summer after that, I took an archaeological field class and fell in love with archaeology. I also worked at a huge country music festival, where two of my favourite country singers were playing: Roger Williams and Hoyt Axton. Didn't get to see either of them, but heard them. I was working security, so I also had the chance to bar access backstage to either the Oakridge Boys or Alabama (both were playing, both looked similar at the time, especially in twilight), until someone produced a back stage pass.

The summer after that was the only time I ever got paid to do archaeology. Had a great time. Made friends - one of whom I still have supper with once a week, 30 years later. Got arthritis from overworking my hands, got heat exhaustion, and lived in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. All in all, a good summer.

The summer after that, I worked at a nature interpretive centre. I learned a lot about nature - some of which I was still able to tell the other writers about on the way home from the conference in Calgary last weekend. Another out-of-town post, this time in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. You'd be surprised how much nature there is to see when driving through the prairies on Canada's #1 highway.

After that, the summers all started blending together again.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

What fun to read everyone's experiences.

This summer was excellent, fun vacation and lots of work finished. Work feels like vacation most of the time but the beach and the côte de Province rosé were well enjoyed.

After reading BJ's comment I thought about a summer spent on Block Island, the year between freshman and sophomore at Maryland Institute College of art. It was the first time I ate grilled sea scallops, and the first summer away from home. I had this pair of white loafers that accompanied through the debauchery.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Best summer ever, oh my I have had so many awesome summers.

But, the summer my heart drifts back to most often, when I need a fix of visual and emotional perfection, is actually two summers back to back, mid-'60s.

Teton Mountains in Wyoming.
I feel as connected to the mountains as I am to the sea. There is no more beautiful place on earth, or one which holds such a huge part of my soul, as the Teton Range. I lived a former life there, of that I am convinced.
Now I am in tears, remembering how awestruck I was and how humbled I felt as a teenager back then. It actually became the setting for my first (shelf) novel.
I always wanted to go back but never did. Maybe I shouldn't because one thing I have learned over these many summers, is that going back messes with the perfection of pleasant memory.
God, it was just so damn beautiful.

Kate Larkindale said...

My family have a beach house in one of the most beautiful spots in the world (Kaiteriteri) so every summer we've spent there. It's the perfect place to relax because there's very little cell coverage or internet so you have to switch off and get away from everything. The sand is golden, the sea warm and there are a ton of things to do within an hour's drive of the house.

RachelErin said...

Definitely the summer I trained at Shakespeare and Company.

There were some difficult parts, but I received training on story, life, theater, hard work...saw amazing actors in some of the best plays ever written, learned to use a broad sword (my partner and I liked to practice in the public park).

I got to spend an entire summer doing what I loved best in life, single-mindedly.

If I could one thing back from my childhood, it would be that single-minded focus. I don't know how to do that in my current life. I feel like I've forgotten - even when I get away for a few hours my mind wanders like an untrained puppy. I don't know how to relearn it, and I'm scared I can't.

What's worse, I don't know what to focus on.

Theresa said...

I LOVE summer. I live for summer. It is always too short.

All of those childhood summers were wonderful: catching fireflies, playing kickball in the street, drinking Koolaid.

My favorite grown-up summers were the ones during graduate school--nearly 3 months of research and/or writing.

Susan Alice Bickford said...

When I was 10 (almost 11) I was deemed sufficiently grownup to deal with my idiosyncratic grandparents and I was sent from Syracuse, NY to Grafton, MA to spend several weeks with them before heading to the family summer place in the Northeast Kingdom (Vermont).

My grandmother found a group of girls for me to play with. They were all one year older and our first meeting conversation was like this:

"Mary, did your parents give you a potty for graduating 6th grade?"
"Yeah. It was great. A lot of friends came to the potty."
"I got a potty too."
"Me too. That was fun. I'd like another potty soon."

I was mystified. What would be so much fun about receiving a toilet as present, why so many people would like to come and use it together, and why would this be a custom that lots of families did in Grafton? What kind of berg was this place?

After I figured out what they were talking about, we went to Mary's tool shed where there were stacks and stacks and stacks of her father's Playboy magazines. This was a fascinating aspect of impending womanhood I had never considered.

Mornings were spent "reading", learning to double dutch jump rope, and other mischief. All unsupervised. Afternoons we went swimming at a lake that I (mis)remember as Kit Kat with clear water the color of copper.

Finally we headed to Vermont, first stopping off at my grandfather's work where he officially retired. On a machine that magnified things, he showed me that you can see Lincoln sitting in the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the penny.

My grandmother didn't like to drive more than a couple of hours. We stopped for the my first night ever in a hotel in White River Junction, Vermont. It was a huge Victorian thing with a massive wrap around porch, overlooking the Connecticut River.

The next day we made it to Caspian Lake, home base for the rest of the summer. Just before my 11th birthday, I swam across the lake, which in our family was required to prove you didn't need to wear a life jacket when sailing or fishing.

An eventful summer.

Adele said...

Off topic, but interesting given yesterday's discussion - I just did a Google search for "Is it all right to put coffee grounds down the drain" and Google corrected my question to "Is it alright..."

Anonymous said...

*shakes head* oh Google. *sighs*

french sojourn said...

When I was six, my folks got a divorce, so we moved to Portugal for a couple years. My dad was Chief engineer on a Freighter, and his main port was Lisbon. We lived in a nice neighborhood in Cascais, close to Estoril.

Anyway, so one day all seven of us piled into my dad's commandeered old Porsche 356a hardtop. (He got a great deal on it because the original owner blew the engine and swapped in a VW microbus 1600cc engine.) Well my mom drives us to the local circus that had arrived in town the night before. I'm six and wearing a dainty little sailors suit. I even have pictures to prove what parents do to amuse themselves.

We make our way to the circus and meander around a bit, and it is decided that my sisters Stacia and Saskia want dearly to ride the elephant. The three of us get on this huge magnificent creature. Stacia in front, Saskia in the middle (youngest) and Hank in the back.

Well Simba hasn't taken more than a half step, when Saskia does a five year olds freak-out. She tries to get off the Elephants back, and in turn ends up pushing me back a couple feet. I should mention at this point that we were at the starting point of the lap that was a quarter mile long...and our complete ride. This is the same point where the elephants had been ..let's just say what it is...pooping.

Cut to six year old Hank landing feet first into a three foot high pile of, when they finally extracted me from the substance I was minus one small sailors shoe. Then they hosed me down, and the remainder of the day lil swabby was trailing behind the family absolutely livid.

And for some reason that was my favorite summer.

A.J. Cattapan said...

Probably last summer when I pulled an "Eat, Pray, Love" and ran off to Italy to study Italian. The trip changed my whole approach to life.

LynnRodz said...

Hank, your story is hilarious! And I love that your sisters have such exotic names, Stacia and Saskia and your name's Hank. No offense, but it seems to me your name should be Starskos or something like that. Then too, you start your story with your parents getting divorced and they decide to move to Portugal. More couples should do that; a pilgrimage to Fátima perhaps?

Honestly, la cerise sur le gâteau is your sailor suit and your downfall. What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing.

Donnaeve said...

Et tous Google? Et tous?

Hank. Oh. Good. Lord. Talk about stink, stank, stunk!

And, Kate, I just had to look this up: Kaiteriteri = heaven.

Donnaeve said...

Or, is it et tu?

Like all right, and alright, I've seen both.

Colin Smith said...

Donna: Latin, so et tu, Google? Which, if we presume the Latin for the search engine is Googlus, works since the vocative form would be Google (pron. Goog-lay)!

Class dismissed. ;)

Gingermollymarilyn said...

Omg, A.J. Cattapan - That is just FANTASTIC!!

Anonymous said...

The best summer I can remember was when my family went camping at Comanche Lake, way back in the late ‘70’s.

Gone were the braces. Gone were the knobby knees and flat chest. Hello to curves in all the right places. Not that I realized any of that—that was until I donned the two-piece, hip-hugger swimsuit my mom surprised me with. Embarrassed about being seen in a state of nearly nakedness, I wrapped my beach towel around my hips, tucking it into itself at one hip, and headed toward the beach. Little did I know the towel did little to disguise my hips, rather it accented the very thing I tried to hide.

The strangest thing happened when I reached the beach. Not one person, cute boys included, teased me, or acted as if I didn’t exist. In fact, I was invited to join in the fun—getting thrown off the tanning raft out in the middle of the swim section of the lake, sitting around telling ghost stories, laughing, having them laugh at and enjoy my stories. I belonged.

That was the summer I gained the self-esteem I desperately needed, to hold my head high, and just be me.

When school started that fall, as I walked the high school halls, heads turned my way, people stared. An inner glow shined from my smile and eyes (no longer focused on the floor., I felt it and knew others did too. After that, I was never, ever bullied again.

Anonymous said...

OOPS! My bad.

Please ignore the extra comma after "floor."

Anonymous said...


The comma should have been an end parenthesis.

I wasn't nervous about posting that comment, now was I? :)

Anonymous said...

Pffthahaha! Now I can't stop laughing at Hank, et tu Googlus and the idea of falling in elephant poo!
We mostly walked in cow pats when I was a kid. Then dad'd tell us how all the boys in his family used to deliberately step in 'em during the winter cos it was freezing and they never wore shoes (kept growing out of 'em apparently, and couldn't afford more). That would usually lead on to the stories about coming home after school dripping wet cos they'd been swimming on the sly, and singing "Blow ye wind southerly, southerly, southerly; blow ye wind southerly, so mum don't know!" in hopes that they'd be dry enough before they got home to escape a belting. Oh, and the fact that grandma once reefed a healthily-sized young sapling out of the ground to tan their hides when one of 'em hid the cane and they'd been VERY naughty :D

CynthiaMc said...

Home for me is the beach, so I love summer. I love the white sand barking under my feet. I love to swim. I love big, thick summer books and the endless time to read them. I don't have those any more, but I still love them.

Favorite summer memories: visiting cousins in Gautier, Mississippi when we lived way from the South. Aunt Jean and Uncle Harry lived on a point jutting out into the Gulf. Just about everyone there was related and had free rein of the woods, the swamp, miles and miles of playground.

Summers in Fairhope, Alabama before we lived there, in an un-airconditioned house on a bluff overlooking Mobile Bay. I slept in a hammock on the top floor screened-in porch where I could hear the waves, feel the nreeze, watch the boats. Boiled shrimp and gumbo under the live oaks when we ran out of room in the house filled with so many friends.

Summer at the University of Madrid. No beach but castles are fun too. A hot pink basement apartment off Hyde Park for a week while we explored London.

Love summer. My dream is to have summers off again.

Laura Mary said...

Summer in England is a fleeting two weeks if you're lucky, though I seem to remember the weather being better when I was a kid!

We'd go camping in Somerset for two weeks every year, from when I was 6 months old to when I was 16 and decided I was too cool for camping anymore (my parents went with my 2 younger sisters, leaving me and my brother 'home alone' for a fortnight - but that's a story for another time)
Most of those summers have morphed into one, but some favourite memories include lying under the trailer tent with a stack of my brothers Secret Seven books and reading them one after the other after the other, winning second prize at a fancy dress contest dressed as a bag of rubbish, getting thrown off a horse and nearly rolling off a cliff BUT being brave enough to get back on it again, and my first 'love' at the age of 13 - we ended up being penfriends for over a year.

There's not much that beats childhood summer holidays - 6 whole weeks off school, we didn't know how good we had it!

french sojourn said...

Lynn ; to add to the 5 sisters names are Saskia, Stacia, Sabrina, Suzanna and Sara. They all start with s and end with a. My brothers name is Robert..and me Henry....oooof!

Ces't la vie.

Bonne journee, ma amie.

Summers of Fire said...

Summer of 1976... my first summer fighting fires with the U.S. Forest Service. So many memories. Some good, some bad, but none will I ever forget.

DeadSpiderEye said...

During that summer, the flame in her eyes was the subtle glow of chestnut over embers, not the mercurial flicker of emerald fire I'd chased so vainly. She was self-conscious, thought the downy hair on her nape and middle of her back was masculine, she was wrong, still I rationed those moments I'd trace those spandrels down her back with my fingers, to spare those sensibilities. I think I recall it was two years I'd aged during that fortnight, I stood a inch and half taller too. I shed the extra years in September but the extra height stayed with me.

D. B. Bates said...

The summer after graduating from high school, because that was really the last time summer was summer for me, and I had the foresight to realize that and enjoy the hell out of it.