Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summer memories

Finally, Slip n' Slide duty wasn't so bad. The wind picked up so after forcing the kids to do atleast two slides apiece, we let them climb in the hot tub, which was probably more like a warm tub, but it kept them busy for an hour or so. It was funny because there were so many kids squeezed in there, all that they could do was bob up and down, but that was apparently hilarious fun. In the end, all I had to do was sit in a chair, counting heads to make sure no one went under, while I snacked on Chedder Goldfish stolen from my cousin's baby.

It was a nice party, once all the adults arrived. I grew up going to these relaxed summer dinners where around 25-30 people wander in, carrying pasta salads and coolers of drinks. The kitchen is full of women and the yard is full of kids. There is generally somebody in a dusty baseball uniform and the only people guaranteed a chair are over 80. Its not always incredibly well organized (in fact, lack of organization is probably a key ingredient) but it always turns out perfectly, with plenty of food, drinks, and fun. The biggest problem generally involves trying to get your car out of the driveway when you are on your way home but my family solved this problem long ago by developing the understanding that everyone always leaves their keys on dash.

The next day, I was spoiled again with Northern Wisconsin fun by getting dragged out to a little country village, population about 36, for the Sportmen's Club Pancake Breakfast- all you can eat breakfast on picnic tables in the middle of the cornfields followed by a baseball game between two local teams. An afternoon of popcorn and beer in the sun left us all sunburned and exhausted. Ella is finally a real baseball diamond kid- she spent the entire afternoon running around barefoot with a pack of little kids, begging soda and candy off anyone who was sucker enough to fall for her cute little pout. She took off her shoes and lost them, not caring one little bit that she was dusty and sticky from head to toe. Its another one of those times when I looked at her and suddenly had a flashback to my own childhood that nearly knocked me over.

Remembering the feeling of soft, hot dust on my toes, running around in the sun with an ice pop melting in my hands. Its so funny because it feels so close sometimes, like it was only yesterday that I was eight years old and piling in my mom's red station wagon for the ride to the baseball field to watch my dad play ball and hang out with my cousins in the weeds, chasing foul balls. squeezing a warm sticky quarter in my hand, trying to decide what treat I want to get from the concession stand. I don't know if its because we live so far away and I forgot so much stuff that when I am here, it hits me like a bulldozer. Memories from when I was little, things that haven't crossed my mind for years, just flood in. Maybe its because of Ella and seeing her is like falling into some weird wormhole to my past. What I like best is that the momories are not about something big that happened but more of an overwhelming feeling about what it was like to be a little kid playing, a really nice happy, carefree feeling that you honestly don't get to touch very often when you are an adult. There is always something lingering on the sidelines of your mind, some mental 'To do' list. Sunday was a good day.

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