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It seems like only yesterday that I was turning off all my thermostats and turning on all my fans. Actually, it was yesterday when I turned on all the thermostats and turned off all the fans. Summer came and went through here like an express train.
I can remember when summer seemed long, lazy, and happy; when I was a kid and when my kids were little. There are certain times and memories indelibly impressed on my mind. Some of these can be evoked by a sound, a smell, a song. Two of the best sounds of my childhood summers were the slamming of a wooden screen door and the clackety-clack of the good old push lawnmowers.
Modern aluminum screen doors are not as satisfying to shut. They also have a tendency to bend out of shape. The worst and least satisfying to open and shut are big patio doors, which also seem to jump their tracks or fall off completely.
I can remember wooden screen doors that seemed to last forever. The screening had to be replaced occasionally, but that wasn’t a particularly complicated or difficult task.
The old lawnmowers are still a favorite of mine. I bought one at a yard sale a few years ago. With my typical machine problems, I was sick and tired of trying to get the darned modern mower to start. It would take me twice as long as anyone else to pull the cord and lots of botched attempts to adjust the choke properly. For some reason, my husband never bought a mower that could be turned on by simply turning a key.
He was surprised by my purchase, and amazed that I had been able to find it. He happily sharpened the blades and pretty soon the air was filled with the music of the wheels and the sweet smell of cut grass, with no reeking gasoline fumes. It was a while before I could insist on being allowed a chance to use my beloved mower. You’d be surprised at how many people both in cars and on foot, stopped to make comments whenever they passed us mowing. There were a lot of, “good for you”, calls, plus questions about where we had found our treasure. I could have been like Tom Sawyer and offered chances to mow a line or two at a dollar a run.
Ice cream making is another good summer memory. My father made a big production out of producing marvelous, different, creamy flavors. He used to urn the crank as if he were an organ grinder with a barrel organ, singing opera as he went. All he needed was a monkey.
My husband, who loved ice cream, also liked to make it. As a man who preferred sailing or rowing a boat to anything with a motor, and enjoyed pushing a lawn mower, he insisted we use an old fashioned wooden ice cream maker, with a big handle, which he and the kids liked to turn. Unfortunately, he couldn’t carry a tune so there was no vocal accompaniment. In the winter we also liked the fact that we could put the barrel out to “set” in the snow. Once, when our Newfoundland dog was entertaining the neighbor’s pup, he picked up the barrel and took it to the end of the yard where he and his guest ate half of it. Somehow he managed to get the top on and carried it back to the kitchen door, where he had found it. We all thought he was incredibly kind and clever to return half for us.
Summers with our four children were as happy and relaxed as our own childhoods. Time just seems to speed up when everyone’s grown, and this year, the good old summertime just zapped by, as fast as the young man on the mower, who cuts the grass around here. Every time he starts up his motor, it sounds like an 18 wheeler is coming into the living room. Oh, for the clackety-clack of days gone by.
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