Sentimental about dirt necklaces, but it’s hot out there

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The other day someone mentioned their grandchildren having “dirt necklaces.” I laughed because I hadn’t thought about those in years and it brought back memories of wearing one myself. It also made me recall bath time with my own children, minutes spent removing those rings of play-dirtiness from underneath little necks, the creases of elbows and wrists and knees.

It was a sure sign of summer when I played so hard and so long that my bath water was brown when I finished scrubbing away the day. I was thinking about those lazy days of long ago as I stepped outside to gather my cat dishes this morning.

Heavy — that was the best description of the air. It hit me full on and not a single leaf was moving in the stillness of the heat. I could feel the sweat forming on the back of my neck under my long hair.

I realize that this is summer in South Alabama, but somehow it feels a lot more oppressive than it did when I was a kid. I don’t remember hot weather bothering me, and if I noticed it being humid, I’ve forgotten it over the years. Sweating was just part of it and didn’t slow me down one bit.

Maybe it’s a kid thing that nothing bugs you as long as it doesn’t stop you from being outside — wonder if kids still want to be outside as much as we did when we were growing up.

From what my friend said, at least some children still spend days creating dirt necklaces, and that, I think, is a good thing. Perhaps, it’s only when we are young and much more innocent that we are that free and open to everything.

I mean would an adult dare go out in public with a ring of yuck circling the neck and not care what anyone thought. Well, maybe a few would, but not many.

Kids, on the other hand, don’t have time to worry over such silliness. There are far too many adventures waiting. At least I hope that is the life of a child in 2017. It certainly was once upon a time.

Days were long back then and summer seemed both endless and too short. It was a time of heat and dirt and sweat and playing until I fell into bed at night exhausted. Sometimes I am amazed at how fast that time passed and became just another memory.

I gathered up the cat bowls and hurried back inside to my air-conditioned house. From the cool comfort of the chair at my bedroom window, I looked out on the morning. Already, at 9 a.m. heat waves shimmered across the front yard.

Weatherman said by Thursday, it would be even hotter and more oppressive as the heat index rises. If we don’t get a shower today, I’ll have to brave the heat and water my potted plants tomorrow morning. Not something I’ll enjoy.

Ah, it is the curse of growing up that summer becomes more about surviving the humidity and mosquitoes than about celebrating the freedom of long hot days that stretch into nights playing under the stars. That’s life I guess.

Still, just one more time it might be fun to fall down under the shade of a tree and rest in the cool grass while the sun beats down overhead. For one day, to create for myself the biggest and best dirt necklace ever.

On second thought, it’s pretty hot out there, and I don’t want to fight the mosquitoes that always track me down — might even be a horsefly or two ready to attack. There are probably fire ants in the grass under my trees. And another thing, I have too many creases under my neck now, way too many places for dirt to accumulate.

Think I will be content with my recollections and let the kids enjoy spending long, lazy summer days outside wearing dirt necklaces and collecting memories.


Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.