Tuesday, August 10, 2010

À la Recherche de l'été Perdu (In Remembrance of Summers Past)

Summer has been slow to come to Southern California this year, particularly at the beach where I live. Typically we have a month of marine layer (overcast skies and temps in the 60s but no rain) in June, but this year what we call "June Gloom" has extended into August.  Unlike our friends and family on the east coast, we have not needed to turn on our air conditioning this summer.  I am still wearing wool pants even in August.

So I have started to fugue in my memory to summers of my childhood spent in upstate New York at a small spring fed lake.  Here are some scenes that have flashed through my memory:

  • When I was very young I had a stuffed bear named Joe (which was also my dad's name) who I believed was my only friend. I dragged him everywhere, smelling his sweet Teddy bear smell. One summer I vomited on Joe and my mother had to wash him.  I was beside myself until I got him back and then beside myself again because he did not smell the same. I have a specific memory of her returning Joe to me in the room I had in the house we had on the lake.
  • At age 9 or so, I ordered a kit from the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy group to put on a circus/fair to raise money for the cause.  I set up a fair with games at our lake house (aka the "camp")on a Sunday when family was visiting.  I think I raised about $5.
  • My maternal grandmother (aka Nanny) came to visit one summer and actually spent some time showing me how to cook.  She made wonderful pies but did not show me much about how to make them.  I guess the tutelage was not too extensive given that I still do not know how to cook all that well.
  • One summer when I was about 11, my dad set up an archery set for me and showed me how to shoot a bow and arrow.  I got pretty good at hitting the bullseye.
  • At age 10, I got a license from the state of NY to operate a motorboat so I learned to drive ours all over the lake and to take people waterskiing.  I repeated the mantra, "let the boat pull you up."
  • I tried for years to learn how to waterski myself.  I only got up once and fell fairly quickly out in the middle of the lake.  I was the only one in my family who was never able to waterski.  For some reason, it seemed like my arms were never strong enough to hold on, although my family found ways to insult my balance, athletic ability etc.
  • The summer I was 12, I decided to force myself to swim more so I set up a schedule for daily swims from our dock to another dock that I estimated was about 1/2 mile away.  I also spent that summer canoeing all over the lake. You would think I would have had strong arms but nope, still couldn't waterski.
  • When I was 13, I spent a good chunk of the summer sitting or lying on the enclosed porch of the camp reading War and Peace.  I remember loving the book and loving the setting.

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