“Your life is a poem,” says Naomi Shihab Nye.
And as the world tilts toward the dog days of summer, that’s how I see it too: tiny images of poetry seen through the prism of my childhood, remembering summers in the Longenecker back yard and inside Grandma’s house. Louis Macneice expresses these sentiments vividly in his poem, “Soap Suds”
Though Macneice reminds us there’s no going back to childhood after experiencing the realities of an adult, our younger selves can still exist in memory – as photographs preserved in sepia tone. And like the bubbles in soap suds, I recall a childhood that is ephemeral, fleeting:
I can see the nicked edge of the croquet mallet, as it strikes the striped ball with a “thwack” sending it on a scrolling roll . . .
. . . taste the root-beer float Mom made from Hires concentrate, laying the 2-quart Ball jars side by side on the cellar floor to “cure.” . . . hear the straw suck of the cool drink like the sound of sudsy sink water draining.
. . . feel the cool water as I splashed in the tub on a hot summer day in August.
* * *
Only one piece of playground equipment was a fixture in our back yard, an iron swing painted glossy silver. Here Daddy, probably at Mother’s prompting, posed with me in his plain coat and black bow tie before or after church at Bossler Mennonite. He has a tentative hold on his firstborn daughter, perhaps still feeling awkward as a parent. The calendar must have shown April because I was 9 months old. No roses or peonies bloom yet in the garden behind us.
Credit: Globe and still life. The antique globe above comes from Norwood Elementary School where Cliff first taught school. He composed the still life painting next to it during his Master’s degree studies at Florida State University.
Did your family have a croquet set? Do you still use it?
What other pictures or stories of childhood summers did this post spark in your memory?
How as an adult, have you tried to retrieve child-like wonder and playfulness?
Coming next: School Daze – They Ain’t What They Used to Be