By Beth Pinyerd
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.
This coming Monday, we celebrate Memorial Day, May 31. This is when we honor those who have died in the nation’s wars. Our nation stops and honors those and their families who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Even though summer does not officially start until June 20, in fact the same day as Father’s Day, we can sense that summer has truly begun! Reflections of summers past in Lee County as well as surrounding areas brings smiles of summer memories.
1. Feeling, Touch, Texture:
How did people live and survive day to day before air conditioning? When the senior adults share memories with young children about how summers use to be, it is a great intergenerational lesson. In looking at our great grandparents’ and grandparents’ homes, we can see that older homes had higher ceilings. Heat would rise so that families could enjoy the cooler spaces and rooms below. Deep eaves and porches would protect windows from the heat of the sun. Too, trees were planted around older homes to provide cool shade. Windows were also built opposite of each other to provide a cool cross breeze. Looking at the architecture of older homes in Lee County and Alabama you can see that this pattern was followed. Folks in earlier times also sat out on porches more, rocking, swinging and playing games. Families were a lot more sociable with their neighbors when sitting out on the porch. This writer remembers like yesterday sitting out on our back porch and enjoying the coolness of a summer afternoon rain. We also had electric fans, hand held fans and attic fans to keep cool. In church I remember that we did not have air conditioning. We kept cool as a fellowship by fanning with cardboard fans. In the South we used to take afternoon naps to escape the hottest part of the day. Too, spring-fed pools to swim in and cool well water poured into big aluminum pans to splash in were other ways to stay cool during the summer. Touching a flower or lawn with early morning dew as well as walking barefoot through this cool grass remind us of appreciation of the touch and feel of summer. Touching shells bring memories of warm sand between your toes as well as touching a smooth shell bring memories of waves crashing against the beach and shore. Beach lowercase and beach pails bring up the memories of the many afternoons at the beach or near a lake where we played games as well as built sand castles.
The smells of summer are gentle reminders of how delightful this season can be. The gentle fragrance of Honey Suckle or Gardenias signals that summer has arrived! The smell of suntan lotion floods me with love memories of my grandmother making sure her grandchildren didn’t get sunburnt.
Smelling a summer rain, a summer, ocean or lake breeze, newly mowed lawn or someone cooking or barbecuing, floods us with sensory enrichment and appreciation of summer.
3. Tastes: All of us remember and still enjoy the quenching of thirst with fresh squeezed lemonade. The smells of barbecue, fish, hotdogs and other meats has always been a favorite summer pastime. Lee County summers bring us fresh tastes of watermelon, strawberries, peaches, blueberries, etc. How many of us remember that shelling butterbeans or peas were a family’s responsibility especially during the summer? Shucking corn and canning and freezing vegetables were, and still are, tasks to be accomplished during the summer months. I love to ride the country roads in Lee County and see the tall cornstalks waving in the hot breezes of the evening sun. We can remember the good old homemade ice cream full of fresh fruit. Turning the handle on an old fashion ice cream churn was worth the work and wait.
4. Sounds: Going out on a summer night, one can hear crickets and cicadas, and can catch the sound of frogs croaking here and there. The sound of lawn mowers and children joyfully playing on a summer evening echo in our memories as well as being heard. As a child, I remember we children played outside more. Our parents and grandparents let us play outside more during the summer months. My grandmother had us cousins come spend many weeks with her at the old family farm. We used our imaginations more as we played house in the shade of the pecan trees.
5. Sights: Taking time to “watch” summer can fill your day. Looking for the glow of fireflies in the evening, watching Hummingbirds get nectar from a flower or feeder, following the flight of butterflies as they dart here and there, can fill your day with enjoyment and observation. In Lee County, we have so many beautiful sunsets to enjoy! There are many parks in our area that offer shade and enjoyment for the old and young alike.
6. Safety Reminders: In order to enjoy summer, the elderly and young need to keep these health tips in mind. Just this week, the temperatures are higher than usual. Stay hydrated; stay in cool spots; don’t go out in the very heat of the day; be aware of temperature highs; wear light-colored and loose fitting clothes; protect your eyes; rub on sunscreen and wear hats.
Now let’s all dive in to the joys of summer living! Look, hear, smell, taste, touch and feel what all that summer has to offer for the young and old!