We went on our walk together this morning, hubby and I, something we try to do on Saturday mornings as a different routine than the normal weekly things. And lo and behold, we discovered that the mulberries are ripe.
The mulberry tree edges the road about a mile up the way. If you, like me, tend to keep your head down when you're walking (hubby always admonishes: "Get your head up! Look around. Don't watch your feet...") then the first sign of evidence are the purple splotches on the asphalt. But when we checked out the tree's branches, we marveled at the rich lode of berries growing there.
And the memories kicked in. I'm a child, along with a couple of neighbor kids, and we have crossed the road where it curves around the bend, skipped up the lane, and climbed the gnarled branches of the neighborhood mulberry tree. The owner doesn't care. We nestle in the crook of its branches, and stretch as far as we can to reach the plumpest, juiciest berries. The sun warms our arms. The breeze ruffles the leaves and cools our faces. We eat until we're full. It's one of my favorite summer memories.
For hubby, his memory bank kicked in as we passed a cluster of first-of-the-season daisies. "The end of the school year" flower, he says, the name he gave the daisy as a kid. He'd notice fields of daisies growing along the bus route those last few school days and know that school was just about over. Then he'd be free. Free to play ball--even if it meant just himself, with a rock and a stick and an imagination back on the hill behind the house. There he'd throw the rock up, hit it as far as he could--and pretend that the rustling leaves were his adoring fans cheering him on.
Oh, the childhood memories!
Recently, in our newspaper, columnist Paul Daugherty wrote a column about summertime ("How Summer Is Supposed to Be Spent"). In it he recalled how, as a child, his parents (who both worked) would leave a quarter on the bureau in the living room for him, and a handwritten reminder: "Have a good day and don't break anything." Armed with that 25-cents, "a bike and two good friends," he writes that he'd "throw myself at the day." He writes of being Roberto Clemente one day, Steve McQueen another, of sneaking into the tennis club pool or visiting the local pet store. He says, "Some days, we were bored. Kids need to be bored. Boredom is good."
He makes a good point as he continues: "The essential part of childhood is...being a child. Plan nothing. Risk. Extend...Loll. Dare. Engage. Run, jump, be fearless, look silly. The magic is in the day. Seize it. Find your own quarter on the bureau in the living room. One summer to a customer. This one's yours. Play."
I love his philosophy and think that we could use a bit of it in our adult lives, too. Especially those of us who write for children--as we explore such intangibles as imagination, creativity, wonder and the craft of words. What do you think? What's one of your favorite childhood summer memories--and how can you incorporate a touch of the child you were into the adult you've become?