Thursday, August 27, 2015

August (Jennifer R. Hubbard)

When I was growing up, summers were long and lazy. Until I was fifteen, I didn’t go to camp or any other organized activity. We didn’t have a vacation home. Summer was for staying home and figuring out how to manage my time.

I’m grateful I had those seasons, which looked endless from the vantage point of June. I had two assets that have become incredibly precious since then: time and leisure. Summer was the only time of year that I didn’t have to get up before six AM, attend classes, do homework.

The stories I made up (and often acted out) to fill those days were good for at least two things: they opened up the creative outlet that became writing, and they taught me how to entertain myself, how not to rely on external sources. I did have library books and TV, but my TV-watching was rationed by parents who wanted me to get fresh air, and I could plow through a stack of library books within a couple of days of checking them out. Sometimes I played games or swam, but mostly play time was about making up stories. I made up stories for my sister and me to act out, stories for our dolls, stories for the plastic animals we played with. I began to write some of them down.

Every August, when the back-to-school shopping started and the back-to-school ads haunted the airwaves and the Sunday paper, I would feel the cold shadow of fall creep up on me. Fall was darkness, alarm clocks, a return to rigidly scheduled life. August was the sunset of summer, the final golden days of freedom. August was the month when I realized summer really was finite. But in August, the cicadas and the crickets still sang; it was still warm enough to go barefoot. Summer was ending ... but not yet.

4 comments:

  1. My summers were a lot like this too. Long stretches of time. A lot of it was boring. But boredom forced me and my brothers to do the things you did too-- read, play, run around outside. I know it sounds crochety and old to say that I think many kids today (over-scheduled, distracted by endless electronic entertainment) may be missing out on that. And what a sad thing that is.

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    1. I have never had so much time, ever since. It's worth experiencing that.

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  2. I made my brother act out a bunch of my stories when I was little--and we recorded them on cassette tapes. I'm kind of afraid to listen to them. I think they'd be soooo embarrassing.

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    1. But fun. My sister and I made a series of cassette tapes "in character" and they were hilarious to listen to, years later.

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