Ten Favorite Things About My Summers Growing Up -
(in no particular order)
Barton Springs -
An Austin institution. Barton Springs is a public pool, made by damming Barton Creek, and filled with natural spring water from Barton Spring. The water remains a nippy 71.6 degrees year round. And if you've ever endured a Texas summer, when temperatures may remain over 100 degrees for a couple of months, that 71.6 is like a little piece of heaven.
When I was in Junior High/High School, we'd get our moms to drop us off there in the morning, and we'd "lie out" all day. The routine was to grease ourselves up with Bain de Soleil and bake in the sun as long as we could stand it. Then we'd get up and dive into the water until we'd lowered our body temperature to the point we'd start to shiver, then we'd climb out and start the process over again.
I LOVED my Water Wiggle! It was probably the most unsafe, violent toy ever made, in fact, they were all recalled and taken off the market in 1978 when a bunch of kids...mmm...died. That thing would whip around like crazy, wrap around your legs, smack you in the head and shoot a spray of water into your eyeballs. FUN!
Used as a generic term. In Texas idiom, the word "coke" refers to any soft drink, what you people from the rest of the country might call "pop" or "soda". Example: "May I please have a coke?" "Sure what kind do you want?" "Dr. Pepper, please."
I seldom if ever drink cokes of any kind any more, I gave them up years ago. But when I was a kid, there was absolutely nothing as refreshing as an icy cold Coke or a Dr.Pepper or maybe even a Big Red. Served over ice. Preferably out of a blue Solo cup. Ah! That carbonation rush! That sugar rush! That caffeine rush!
Dang, I might have to go buy me a Dr. Pepper now.
Kaysie's Pool -
My best friend Kaysie's family had a pool. I think that I could safely say that I spent half of my time during the summer days of my youth in that pool. We would stay in the pool for so long that we used to get something we christened "pool toe", a painful malady which involved little sores on the bottom of each of your raisiny toes from walking around on the bottom of the pool. We sunbathed, we floated, we "Marco Polo"ed, we practiced diving, we practiced synchronized swimming. When we got hungry, thirsty or too hot, we'd wrap up in towels and head into the air conditioned sanctuary of the kitchen, where their family's housekeeper, Onita, would give us tuna salad sandwiches and a coke. And by "housekeeper", I mean maid, as in The Help. Onita took good care of us.
Kaysie's Ranch -
Kaysie's family also owned a ranch, out in the Hill Country near Johnson City. I loved that ranch as much as any place in the world. They had 400 acres, and we had the run of the place. The house was a modest version of South Fork, but we spent most of our time on the land. We rode horses and mini bikes. We fed the cows. We went swimming in the creek. By the time she was about 10, Kaysie knew how to drive a car, so we could just drive the old ranch truck around the property by ourselves. In the summer, my family let me spend weeks at a time out there - it was such a wonderfully freeing experience. I am so blessed to have had this opportunity. And I'm blessed that I can still take Jude to "The Ranch" when we get to Texas.
During the rest of the year, I only got to watch Days of Our Lives when I was home sick, but during the summer, I got to watch it every day! Mama and I would arrange out lunch around the soap schedule so we could watch together! The romance! The scandal! Julie and Doug, Maggie and Mickey. It was fodder for many of my childhood romantic fantasies. I can't believe I actually found this on YouTube - still made my heart flutter...
The tree, not the beverage. Daddy had planted a mimosa tree in our yard, and it was my official climbing tree. I spent a ridiculous amount of time up in that tree. I was a climber. When I think about it, I can still remember the smell of the bark and the way it felt against my skin. And the flowers had the most heavenly smell. I remember picking the feathery blossoms and brushing them back and forth across my face. Aaaaah.
Another very Austin activity. Austin is surrounded by creeks and rivers, and and the best way to enjoy these natural phenomena is in an innertube. When I was a kid, we used to go to a place called Pedernales State Park, where you could tube down rapids and fly over waterfalls. The closest I have ever come to death, was once when I went off a waterfall at Pedernales and the water held me down. I struggled and struggled and finally was able to get to the surface before I drowned. Sadly, people are no longer allowed to go tubing at Pedernales because too many people drowned. Spoil sports!
When I got older, tubing always included tying a six pack of beer to the back of your tube with a rope. The water kept the beer cool, and all you had to do was haul the rope in when you got a little parched. A good time was had by all.
My Portable Record Player -
One year, my parents gave me a record player much like this one...
It was an amazing machine. It ran on batteries, and I could take it outside while I sunbathed in the backyard. I would slather myself with baby oil mixed with iodine, then rub lemon juice in my hair and bake in the sun while listening to Chicago or Barry Manilow or The Captain and Tennille or the soundtrack to A Star is Born. The only hazard was that you had to be careful not to put the record player in the direct sun, or you'd melt your album. Which was very sad indeed. Please do not comment on my incredibly dorky teenage taste in music.
Texas Peaches -
The Texas Hill Country is peach country. Most of you have probably only eaten peaches which have been stripmined in California or Mexico or something. The real deal is incomparable. I'll never forget once bringing some peaches back to LA after a visit to Texas, and my boyfriend at the time ate one. He looked as if he had achieved nirvana. "It's like candy!" he kept saying, peach juice running down his face. They are a phenomenon which has to be experienced to believe. Every summer of my childhood, Mama would go to a peach orchard where you could pick your own. And Kaysie's mom actually grew her own at the ranch. The smell of those peaches absolutely defines summer to me.
As far as I'm concerned, there are only three ways to eat Texas peaches. 1. fresh. 2. as peach ice cream - either homemade or from Bluebell Creamery or 3. in peach cobbler. Or for complete overkill, peach cobbler with Bluebell peach ice cream on top! Here are peach cobblers at Kaysie's ranch...
What do you miss most about your childhood summers?
This post was inspired by...
Prompt #4 - List your top 10 favorite things about summer growing up.