Honeysuckle scents memories

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. That is what the weatherman said, but I knew summer was here when I heard squeals coming from next door.

A few weeks ago, my neighbor’s oldest daughter, Zoey, got a pool for her birthday. Her mother posted a picture of her when she saw it for the first time. I laughed at her expression of surprise and delight.

Of course, the day she got her gift, it was too cold to swim, but as soon as it got a tiny bit warmer, Zoey jumped in. Since then she and her younger sister, Lexie, find their way into the pool every chance they get.

Yesterday, I heard giggling and splashing as Zoey and a friend spent their Memorial Day swimming. I sat listening to the laughter and to barks coming from Biscuit, the chocolate lab that lives with them. He raced round and round the pool trying to figure out how he could get in with the girls.

The sounds mingling with the warm breeze sent me back to the summers of my own pool-in-the-backyard experiences. When I was 10, my parents surprised us with a pool. I probably had the same expression on my face as the one on Zoey’s in that picture because excited did not begin to describe how I felt.

Now this was not a wading pool from Western Auto like most kids had in their yards. No, this one was a special order from Sears. If memory serves me, it had a fence-like structure that hooked to make a circle. Then you draped a plastic liner inside the circle and secured it with clamps. The pool was maybe 3 ½ or so feet deep, but it looked huge to me.

Unlike Zoey’s pool, there was no filter system to keep the water clean. So once a week, Mother or Daddy dumped out the water, which usually had a greenish tint after several days sitting in the hot sun. Then they scrubbed the liner and refilled the pool.

All the while, we waited anxiously for the water to get high enough for us to dive back in. Daddy Roy, my grandfather, built a ladder with a small platform for us to use to get in and out. It was also the launching pad for my brothers’ cannonballs.

That pool made us the coolest place in the neighborhood and on scorching afternoons kids came from up and down the street to swim. After dark, Daddy turned on the lights that he put up around the yard. From way down the block, you could see the big bulbs shining, giving our yard the look of a carnival midway.

Under those lights, the pool water sparkled and we swam until Mother finally made us come in the house. I remember floating on my back looking up at the stars, hearing the sound of crickets, and smelling the sweet fragrance of honeysuckle. How I hated to hear the call that meant it was time for bed.

We had that pool for several years and every year when it went up, we knew summer was here. When it finally wore out, I was moving into my teenager years and swimming in the back yard was not nearly so attractive.

A squeal from next door pulled me out of my memories. I could see Zoey jumping up and down, the water rising and falling with her movements. I laughed thinking about doing the same thing and hearing mother call out the back door.

“Stop splashing all the water out of the pool.”

Yes, Memorial Day came ushering in the unofficial start of summer. For sweet Zoey and Lexie, it is the beginning of the magic days of freedom that summer brings. I hope they have a wonderful summer. I know someday when they think of that pool and the hours they spent in it, their memories, like mine, will be as sweet as the smell of honeysuckle.