Summertime brings back memories

“The summer skies are darkly blue

The days are still and bright

And evening trails her robes of gold

Through the dim halls of night.”

— Sarah Helen Whitman, 1803-1878

What a beautiful summer! I would wish for this to last all the way to Christmas and beyond if I thought I could get my way for just one day.

It is a beautiful, blue-skied, sunny morning as I write this, a gentle breeze blowing. It is a promise of a nearly perfect day ahead, and what a lovely blessing that is for all of us. After weeks of hoping and praying for rain, we finally had several days of a very nice, slow rain and cool grayness in between the rains, perfect for letting the moisture soak in to the parched land.

I hope that you, on your patch of land, were just as fortunate. When we reminisce with someone — anyone, of any age — it seems it is the summers of our youth that hold the most sparkle in that memory bank that sustains us through both good and bad patches of life.

Hard times. I had this conversation with a woman who is now confined to a wheelchair in the twilight of her life, who told me that she has all but tried to erase the Ohio winters of her childhood because they were just “too darn hard — it pains me to think of all that we had to accomplish every day.”

The eldest of her family, Miss Bonnie had grown up without a mother, helping to raise her younger siblings from a very young age, and remembered having to trudge down to the barn through deep snow to hand-milk the dairy cows before she could wake her little brothers and sisters up for breakfast.

“As hard as it was, one thing is for sure, we always enjoyed very fresh milk!” she said with a smile.

Good times. Summers, though, were a joyously different story. Bonnie could remember walking her younger siblings to the fence line at the southern property boundary of her father’s farm where the children dined on fresh berries as they plucked them. After they had their bellies full, they began hiking to the cool, spring-fed pond for a summer’s day frolic for as long as they wanted to stay.

“I carried a blanket and a small basket with bread and butter and cheese, having added handfuls of berries, and when the little ones tired out, they could nap on the blanket under a shade tree. The rest of us would jump in to that water repeatedly, pretending that we were leading rich and glorious lives!”

While Bonnie could not afford a watch, she had learned to tell time by the sun, and she knew when it was time to pack up the picnic and head for home.

The work still needed to be done back on the farm, but summer’s beauty and pleasant days and nights made it all a little more bearable.

“I would head to the barn to do the evening milking, and send my brothers to the garden to pick what I needed to prepare supper for everyone, which often included a few hired hands at our table,” Bonnie recalled. “There was always work to do, but summertime always somehow seemed so much more fun than work.”

After a fresh feast at the supper table, the children would all head outside to play a game of tag, catch lightning bugs and make glorious wishes on the first star they spotted in the summer sky.

Robert Browning wrote, circa. 1860, “Wanting is — what? Summer redundant, blueness abundant.” Agreed!

About the Author

Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college. More Stories by Judith Sutherland

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