The Remains of Summer

With a mere whisper of July remaining, I cannot help but flip through the calendar feeling as if I’ve failed spectacularly yet again. Alright, maybe it’s simply a profound measure of disappointment and/or a mild case of mommy angst that I’m feeling and not failure per se. At any rate, there was so much more that I wanted to accomplish in the 47 days since the school year ended. Things that would make the summer exceedingly memorable for my children. Remembrances that would gather in the corners of their minds for decades to come. Happenings that would surely find their way into the mother-of-all writing assignments come September (i.e. the celebrated back-to-school narrative that practically every student has ever faced): My Summer Vacation was Special Because….

Granted, Thing One and Thing Two have had immeasurable fun thus far in the season of suntans and sweet corn, however if I hope to achieve the brand of joy and the volume of memories I had envisioned cultivating before the thrum of crickets finally dies, I’ll need to hasten my step. It’s people like Beth Hendrickson, creator (and curator) of “A Summer Bucket List,” who inspire me to do so. That said, I’ve compiled a fairly impossible (yet impressive) list of that which I hope to do with my family during the fleeting time that remains—thirty-four days and counting.

For starters, we must seize an enormous cardboard box, one that begs to be transformed into a house of sorts—complete with doors, an abundance of windows and skylights, a child-sized escape hatch and a mail slot that promises to give new meaning and purpose to the junk mail I loathe so completely. We should also spend at least one endless afternoon wielding chunks of sidewalk chalk, together giving rise to a bustling city upon our favorite concrete slab—the one that doubles as a canvas every summer. And when the rains threaten to destroy our self-proclaimed masterpiece, we ought to head inside to construct a behemoth-sized blanket fort that will envelop the entire living room for days on end. Just because. And once we’ve burrowed deep within the confines of either the cardboard cottage or the haven of blankets, we should then read books together—beginning, of course, with Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh.

Furthermore, it’s imperative that we invite a forever friend to stay for a delicious wedge of time, rekindling the past and erasing the miles that now separate us. More importantly, we should do something completely outlandish (like pitch an 18×10 ft. tent in the living room) so as to make his stay wholly unforgettable. We should visit the ocean, too, pausing as its waves give chase and our lungs become filled with the unmistakably brackish scent of the sea. We need to bury each other in the sand, as well, and gather shells by the bushel, and build sandcastles of epic proportions, and walk on the beach at dawn—as there is nothing else on earth quite like it. We ought to visit a handful of historic places, too, and wonder aloud how it must have felt to live during such an era. Feeding our intellect and stirring our minds at a museum is a good idea, too—as is catching a drive-in movie on a whim and camping out at Grandma and Grandpa’s in the aforementioned monstrosity of a tent—as promised.

What’s more, painting something together made my summer bucket list, not to mention teaching my brood the fine art of skipping stones, reading (and folding!) an actual map and catching a Frisbee behind one’s back. Oh, and cursive writing, too—a skill that the Department of Education apparently no longer deems worthy of inclusion in its curriculum—a decision that defies all logic and understanding.

And although it’s exceedingly difficult, I will try my level best to unplug from my dear computer for a time. (Apparently, radio makes people happier anyway according to a recent Huffington Post article). Likewise, it is essential that my family spends a goodly portion of the coming weeks devouring fresh garden tomato and cucumber sandwiches. Lots of them. Spontaneous picnics involving said sandwiches are of paramount importance for August, too, as is playing badminton until we can no longer see, except for the intermittent flashes of fireflies as the dark of night slowly swallows the yard, the thickets and trees in the distance and, eventually, what remains of summer.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (lamenting the finite quality of summer and knowing all too well that we’ll be plunked on the shores of September long before we are ready). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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