Outside on my porch, I gaze up into the summer sky, just as the sun is setting. Dusk, it seems, is lingering now- not wanting to surrender to the darkness of the night.
Out on the lawn, tiny faint flashes of light appear, and crickets chirp as the evening symphony begins. Off in the distance clamor the voices of neighborhood children playing.
Summer brings so many sweet memories. I wonder why I never appreciated them fully when I was young. I wonder why I never believed my mother when she said "These are the best days of your life."
It’s been a long day and all the summer sounds of the day crescendo into a cacophony of familiar noises. I sigh with contentment. These sounds of Summer bring it all rushing back. Somehow it soothes me. Suddenly I want to call out to the playing, neighborhood children, "These are the best days of your life." But, I know they will discover that for themselves someday. Life is appreciated only when experienced. You see, I could offer up a hundred adjectives describing the taste of a cold, sweet, watermelon on a hot summer’s day. But those words would never bring the satisfaction of tasting the cold sweetness that it offers.
So many evenings like this filled my summers and are the foundation of who I am: a simple, southern girl. Growing up in the south afforded me the pleasure of partaking of fresh squeezed lemonade mixed with "sweet" tea, playing barefoot in the cool, freshly mowed, grass and staying outside late while catching lightning bugs, then placing them in Mason jars.
A group of us neighborhood kids would play every game we could think of, from "Red Rover" to "Mother May I?". Sometimes we would skip down to the corner Mom and Pop store where we could quench our thirst with a bottle of Coca-Cola for a dime or tease our taste buds with a sherbet push-up ice cream.
We never watched the clock, we never worried about the time. Deadlines were not in our vocabulary. When it grew darker , one by one the voices of our Mothers called us home. Home was a place where the porch light was left on to light our way safely through the dusk, and led us to where the fragrance of Mama’s home baked cookies wafted through the screened door, that often got me into trouble for loudly, carelessly, slamming it shut behind me. Careless. I never knew what that word meant or that I would learn to appreciate the weight of its worth someday.
Standing on my porch now, I reaffirm a question I ask myself. "Was there ever really a such thing as ‘the good ole days’? Hushed and still I listen to the sounds of night creatures, as I watch the sun travel westward. Hearing the sounds of children in the distance, I smile. I remember being a child. Wasn’t it only yesterday? I blinked and time slipped through my hands. I suppose every generation enjoys looking back, recalling a time of carefree moments. As we grow older they grow fewer and far between. One thing I know as I stand there on my porch on this warm July night, surely my Mama was right. Those were the best days of my life. Their memory of good things carry me through the hard times. Yes, there was a "Once upon a time, in the good ole days." I know they were real. They will live forever in my heart and memory. They will always be there, shining like a porch light to guide me home, to remind me that homesick is just another word for cold watermelon and sherbet push-ups on a hot July night.