My spring classes ended last week, setting my students adrift until fall without weekly writing nudges from me. Whatever will they do with all that free time this summer? I feel a bit like a hand-wringing parent who has just sent her daughter off to college for the first time. Maybe a reminder letter from home will do the trick…and here it is:
Your Summer Writing List!
Dear People… When you’re lying in your comfy hammocks basking in the summer sunshine, perhaps sipping a tall, frosty glass of lemonade and listening to the birds chirping in the maple tree, let your mind lazily drift back to your childhood summers—those idyllic, seemingly endless, carefree months when you cast off your shoes along with your cares and wallowed in being a kid.
I did some thinking along those lines and came up with all kinds of story ideas. Realize that I grew up in Southern California, where summer is pretty much a year-round event. Nevertheless, I still have some vivid memories of the way my life changed when the school bell rang mid-June, and I was suddenly free as a bird. I’ve listed some of those memories below, hoping they might spark your recollections of what it was like when May turned to June and you skipped into those “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.”
- Summer clothes—finding the right bathing suit; wearing sandals or “go-aheads” (thongs), or going barefoot; never worrying about sunscreen
- Keeping cool—wading pools; playing in the sprinklers; going to the plunge; wanting a “doughboy” pool; sleeping with the windows open and the covers off
- Summer food—popsicles, eating all the watermelon, peaches, plums, and apricots I wanted; dinner consisting solely of tomatoes and corn on the cob. (Arguing with the family about whether it was better to eat corn like a typewriter or spiral-style.)
- Summer chores—picking fruit off the trees; helping Mom make jam; earning $ with Kool-Aid stands; working in the yard
- Staying up late—playing hide and seek and other games in the dark; staying up to watch old movies with my night-owl mother (Ziegfield Follies, the Hope-Crosby “Road” movies); sleeping late in the morning
- Reading, reading, reading—a book a day (Nancy Drew, books by Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder)
- Playing, playing, playing—putting on “shows”; cowboys and Indians; hula hoops; jacks; jump rope; Kool-Aid stands
- Vacations—camping and fishing; visiting relatives; long, boring car trips; going to the beach
- Summer romances—hmmmm; unrequited love, mostly
- Sound, smell, and feel of summer—ocean waves; sand in your shoes; sunburn; coconut suntan oil; lawn mowers; warm grass; roses; ripe fruit; barbeques; weenie roasts at the beach
- Radio/Records associated with summer: listening to the Dodgers on my transistor radio (especially 1959 when they won the World Series), listening to “A Summer Place” and “Mack the Knife” (big hits of 1959); The Beach Boys; Jan and Dean; Peter, Paul and Mary.
I’m sure there’s more, but this is a start. Now make your list…and write, dear friends, write!