Author’s Note: Much of this writing began on a writing marathon at St. Benedict’s Retreat Center in Schuyler, Nebraska in late July, 2020. While out on the writing marathon with my group, we circled the edge of the grounds of this space and walked along corn fields, found an orchard where apple trees and other trees (I’m not sure of the type) rustled in the July breeze, and wandered through the Stations of the Cross which is nestled in the bean fields. Since that time, it has been revised to include more of my summer with my son as I began to see comparisons of his carefree childhood and what I miss about being a kid. As a writer, I may revisit this piece to polish the elements even further, but here it is in a second draft form.
Slow summer days with my son slip away as school threatens to begin, and as I am soaking in my small moments with him, I am brought back to my own summer days.
The crisp crunch of his apples paired with the belly laughs as we share lunch remind me of the apple orchards of Nebraska City. I can still feel the rumble of the uneven brick roads in the place where I first learned to ride my bike. Where giant ice sculptures filled my vision every Sunday brunch at the Lied Lodge.
I remember telling secrets to my sister through the whispering wall in the park, and I wonder which ones remain stuck in its concrete channel.
My son’s sudden splash of cool water and own beaming smile bring me back to this summer devoted to spending time with him. He clambers out of the pool and rests easy in his oversized towel on my lap. His beach blond hair dripping over his bright, inquisitive blue eyes soaks my shoulder as he rests there, and I soak in the smell of his sunscreen and summer.
My son’s squeals of joy as he flips water from the pool create echoes of the screams of laughter.
My own peels blended in perfect harmony with the rustling corn stalks every Thursday night as my friends and I gathered to watch movies at our local amphitheater. While I don’t remember the movies, I remember the grassy knoll where my friends and I would perch behind the benches of families and share in the gossip and joy of adolescence.
It was where I came the day my braces were removed. I wore my favorite navy blue v-neck shirt with my white tank top that had a thick band of lace that sparkled even in the moonlight. My now husband walked up and asked to touch my teeth. So weird. But maybe it was the first time I knew our weirds made sense together.
After lunch, as my son clumsily crawls into his inflatable shark pool in his dinosaur bucket hat, and I hear the trees sing the song of summer and am brought to campouts at Lake Ogallala.
With my yellow fishing pole in hand, my dad taught me to simply enjoy peace as I readjusted the baseball cap that continually donned my head, another trait my son has carried forward. I remember the smell of charcoal grills slowly burning around me before long days on the lake. It was the place I lost my favorite pair of jelly shoes when the sludgy mud at the bottom of Lake McConaughy claimed it as my price of admission into its warm waters.
My writing and reflecting pull me back and forth, from my son’s summer memories to my own.
I hope he enjoys his childhood just as much.