Don't let summer slip away

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By Vince Luecke

A long time ago, when summers came without a job, mortgage or other real-world responsibilities, the months of June and July seemed to be heaven-sent. There were, admittedly, farm chores to shoulder, hay to haul and a lawn to mow, but those were trifling interruptions in what seemed to be an endless string of carefree days.

It's been during weeks like these that I miss those summers and long to roll back the years.

Growing up on a family farm with three brothers and a sister, summers offered leisure and occasional adventures. A lake near the house provided all the fishing we needed but I had a habit of packing up my rod and a tin can of worms and biking or walking about a mile to the Anderson River.

There, at the confluence of the small river with an even smaller creek, I'd angle for small catfish, most barely a foot long. The catches were never huge in number but I seemed drawn to the chances of catching something large, a monster fish, perhaps, that might have ventured up the river from the mighty Ohio and become lost.

I never hooked that monster fish. But I did have time to myself. I would trudge home - a neighbor sometimes offered a lift - and a brother would begrudgingly clean my few catfish.

Summers also taught the responsibility of hard work. In the years before large round hay bales became the norm, our family picked up thousands of square bales each summer. My brothers and I also helped several neighbors with hay and what we earned became our summertime allowance of sorts.

Many of those farmers are retired now. Others have died. Yet I can still see their faces and haven't forgotten the hellish heat of their barn lofts on a hot summer afternoon or the smells of fried chicken and baked potatoes that often finished up a day of work.  

Summers brought drive-in movies and 4-H fairs, afternoons of swimming at Saddle Lake, picking bugs off rows of potato plants and snapping green beans before they were canned. Life seemed ideal during those years. Yet I know things weren't perfect then. They just seemed that way at the time.

Summers are still a special time, if we take time to make memories. This year's Perry County 4-H Fair (July 11-18), Adventures With Nature Field Day (June 27 at Tipsaw Lake), Schweizer Fest (Aug. 5-8) and various church picnics provide those chances. But summer memories don't have to be filled with hustle and bustle. A quiet trip fishing or camping or an afternoon picnic can create experiences just as memorable.  

Too often we're sealed up in air-conditioned buildings during summer or remain  servants to jobs that don't give us much freedom.

Summers of our present may not match the idealized seasons we carry with us, but they can still make special memories for us and those around us who'll remember this summer for years to come.