It’s December and almost Christmas time in Dixie in Georgia and the temperature has dropped to a frigid 64 degrees and this Southern Belle is ready for summer. Yes, Georgia summers are hot and humid but I long for long summers days; especially those of my childhood.
I grew up rural as could be; on a farm with tons of animals, a garden and giant fields. And you know there was a dirt road involved! Summer was my favorite time to roam the corn fields (before I saw the movie E.T.) and pick the lady bugs out of the stalks and collect them in my tin lunch box. They were such a beautiful swirl of color in their little metal sauna of death. Poor things but dang they were pretty!
My favorite part of the day was late afternoon when the heat made the pasture and fields hazy in the distance and the June bugs buzzed in harmony. I would lay on the front porch swing and listen to the big blue oscillating fan turn inside the house while my grandpa sat at the table listening to an afternoon Braves game.
While I cooled off in the shade of the porch and drank Nanny’s sweet tea (which I firmly believe Chic-fil-A eventually stole the recipe to), I’d eat from the basket of plums and strawberries that had been fresh picked that morning for canning.
Once the heat of the day was over, I’d head down to the creek (which I now see as a cesspool of man eating snakes) and jump on the rocks until I would “accidently slip” and fall in. Well shoot, I was already wet so why not go for a good soak. Occasionally the ducks would waddle down and give me the stink-eye until I left their favorite wading spot.
Then I’d roam over to the barn and inhale the sweat sent of oats and hay. The horses milled about in the shade while the cows waded in the shallow end of the creek or crazed near the dirt road where they could nip wild plums off the trees.
Evenings meant the guinea hens and chickens were heading back to roost, full of bugs and grain and clucks and squawks. While they got situated on their perches in the shed, I’d watch my grandpa feed the puppies. He bred, raised and trained beagles as hunting dogs. I’d sit and watch while the mom got her special dish of food smothered in left over gravy or bacon grease. The pups would snort and fight over a soft mash of puppy food.
Night time brought the crickets, cicadas and frogs and their songs were better than any Disney movie sound track I’ve heard.
We didn’t have central heat or air, so the windows would be open, the big blue fan moved to the bed room and I’d drift off to sleep not knowing that these memories would be the base and heart of some of my books.
Now I live in good old suburbia and I do love it. My passion for living in the country isn’t the same as it was when I was young. But on cool, over-cast days, I close my eyes and go back...