Many writers, at some time, will devote a paragraph or more to an idyllic season of their childhood, often summer. In her memoir, A Backward Glance, Edith Wharton alludes to an afternoon she spent with fellow novelist, Henry James. They were visiting the ruins of Bodiam in England, and observing a scene that included an ancient moat, water-lilies, and “great blue dragon-flies.”
Wharton continues, “James turned to me and said solemnly: ‘Summer afternoon — summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English Language.’” (p. 249)
Indeed, most of us have experienced summer beauty, even if just for a moment, an hour, or a day. Wharton titled her 1917 novella Summer.
The second paragraph begins as follows:
It was the beginning of a June afternoon. The springlike transparent sky shed a rain of silver sunshine on the roofs of the village, and on the pastures and larchwoods surrounding it. A little wind moved among the round white clouds on the shoulder of the hills, driving their shadow across the fields and down the grassy road that takes the name of street when it passes through North Dormer. (p .159)
I decided to try my hand at writing about an idyllic summer memory and came up with the following. After taking a peek at this, please proceed to the page where others have submitted their written memories. And, let us hear from YOU!
Summer Days on Tecumseh Road
On summer days, we kids were free to roam the countryside – quite literally. We lived out in the country, in Ohio farmland. Although surrounded by spacious farms, we ourselves were not farmers. We lived in an old stone house on Tecumseh Road, miles from the nearest town of Yellow Springs in one direction, and even more miles from the nearest city of Springfield in the other.
The house sat at the base of a limestone cliff from which a fresh water spring emerged nearby. The spring fed into a pond in our side yard, across which my father had built a cement bridge. All our footprints had been set into the wet cement, so over the years we kids could trace the growth of our feet. The small waterfalls cascading from the cliff into this pond were magical. Barefoot most of the time, we loved to wade in the water, especially on a simmering July day. Our feet quickly grew numb as we made our way awkwardly over the small round stones at the bottom of the pond. Although shrieking with joy, our voices were barely audible over the sound of the waterfalls nearby.
Adding to the magic was a special plant that grew at the water’s edge. When we submerged the leaves of this plant and turned them upside down, their back surface appeared silver in the icy water. Watercress also grew here, and we loved to nibble the crisp bitter leaves. What a haven for children! But, that wasn’t all.
After we tired of playing in the pond, we could walk along the base of the cliff to the far end of the yard. When thick brush prevented us from walking further, we could work our way through the tall plants to a secret trail flanked by sheer boulders on both sides. This trail allowed us to hike to the top of the cliff. We dubbed this the “Indian Trail.”
At the top of the trail, we quickly wandered into property that we knew wasn’t ours, a fact which added to our sense of adventure. But this flat area at the top of the cliff simply hosted a dense glen of trees where we could wander to our heart’s content. Sometimes we collected black walnuts here. Sometimes we lucked into finding a turtle which we would bring home and keep for a few days before taking it back up the Indian Trail and releasing it where we found it.
It was in this yard, in this pond, on this trail, and in this glen, that I developed the intense love of nature that has been with me all my life. Just writing about it now brings back sweet, wild memories of a time when we wandered the land, not yet having words for all that we saw and felt.
Let us hear from you!