Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summers of Snow Cones and Swimming

Years ago-
(omg! Has it really been over forty?!)
temporary relief from the summer heat
could only mean two things:

Snow cones
and Jean's pond.

Luckily, we were within walking distance to both-
so Linda and I made it part of our sunny-day ritual
to visit the two places on a regular basis.

Although money was tight,
Mom always managed to
round up a dime for each of us
so that we could have a snow cone at
Lena Wall's little red and white booth.

Lena would slide a giant block of ice
into an ancient metal crusher.
It looked a lot like our water pump at home.
It would chug-chug-chug,
and roll its wheels,
and spin its belts-
and finally cough out the finest crushed ice
ever found on this earth.

But the real deliciousness came
when she soaked our paper cones
full of flavored syrup
and passed them to us through the window
with a smile.

Choosing a flavor was always difficult.
Personally, I loved Pink Coconut,
Nectar, Spearmint, and Lemon-Lime.
My brothers always got Blue Eagle,
Black Cherry or Strawberry.

For an extra nickle, you could get Rainbow-
which was a combination of your four favorite flavors.
But, that rarely happened for us.
We learned to be satisfied and thankful
for the ten cent version.

And, boy, were they good!

Sometimes I think Lena gave us extra syrup
because she liked us-
or perhaps felt sorry for the vagabond-looking family
that peeped into her window on hot summer days-
The six of us holding hands-
and eyes wide with anticipation-
ready to feel the frostiness of a snow cone
on our parched lips.

I can imagine how we all looked-
walking down the sidewalk with (usually) bare feet-
our lips stained in shades of primary colors
and our bellies happy with cold treats.

On other days, Linda and I would go swimming.

Which is such a joke-
because neither of us can swim.
Basically, we waded in the water till it was up to our necks-
and then our guardian angels took over from there.

One of our best friends, Jean,
had a big muddy pond out behind her house-
complete with a little cabin
and lots of inner tubes.

We would wade through muck and muddy slime
and families of tiny tadpoles-
to immerse ourselves in the coolness of brown water.
(Did we not learn about snakes in Science class?!)

While other girls at the country club or rec club pool
were sipping chlorine
with each crystal clear breast stroke-
Linda and I were gulping huge breaths
of chocolate-milk-colored water
as we flopped off our inner tubes
or plunged into a murky drop-off.

Oh, don't pity us.
We had a blast!
And, to top it off, we managed to survive
every single summer at Jean's pond.

It seems like a lifetime ago...

Maybe that's because it was!

Snow cones
and Jean's pond...

How could a childhood summer
get any better than that?