It’s that magical time – summer vacation

Published 12:34 am Saturday, May 28, 2016

Why are there so many kids here today, I wondered as I pushed my cart toward a checkout lane in a grocery store several days ago. Suddenly it hit me. Of course. School is out! How time flies. I thought of what my granddaughter refers to as “the old days” when I was a child. Back then, the end of school was usually the last day of May, or either extended into a day or two of June. The first day of school was always Tuesday after Labor Day. I have noticed now it starts about mid-August.

I thought about a scene my husband and I witnessed once as we stopped behind a Florida school bus pulling over in front of a house where a woman was sweeping a porch. Two children, probably sister and brother, laden with backpacks, jumped off the bus. They raced toward the house at break-neck speed. The little girl waved her arms and danced a little jig up on the porch. I realized right away what was happening. She was celebrating the last day of school.

It was that magical time: summer vacation. What we saw set us to reminiscing about the days of our summer magic. My husband, recalling his own pleasure over those days, described it as one of the most glorious times in a child’s life. For him and three or four friends, it meant sneaking off to the old swimming hole to take forbidden dips. It was time to fish and roam the woods. Best of all, they were free to forget studying and homework. They enjoyed nature, played baseball, and made up some of their own games.

I always anticipated trips to the beach with my parents and my cousin Betty every summer. If I close my eyes and concentrate, I can almost smell the salty-sandy-faint-hint of bug spray in the cottage. I can almost hear and feel the water tumbling onto my suntan oil-slick body as I showered. Getting barefoot felt better there than any other place despite coping with running across hot pavement and stepping on crushed oyster shells scattered beside the cottage.

Betty and I splashed around in the water, collected tiny shells in sand buckets, and piled sand on each other’s feet to make frog houses. Sometimes we slowed down enough to watch funny-looking seabirds and catch little crabs.

Time passed more quickly on those dreamy summer days than it ever did when we were in school. Two-week beach vacations rushed by so fast, it seemed more like two days to Betty and me. They were never long enough for us.

I am without words to describe the taste of salt air on my lips and the happiness of my first look of the season at the beautiful white sand and the blue-green water of the majestic Gulf of Mexico. I have never lost that feeling of magic. Even today, a part of that summertime magic overwhelms me on visits to the beach.


Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper business. Her column appears on Saturdays.