Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Summer musings...

(Blogged by Linda MacDonald)

Summer, in many ways, is so much more than it was when I was a girl. Summer in this day and age has exploded into something that is both wonderful and over the top, depending on how you look at it. We've come so far since the summers I spent as a child, and like everything else, what we are left with is what we have created.

When I was a girl in the seventies, summer just was. It happened, we experienced it, but we certainly didn't plan for it like we do today. Summer vacation was just that: a vacation from school. We had neither the means, nor awareness, that summer should include vacations of its own! Sure, there were families that packed up their tents or campers to set off on camping trips, but we certainly didn't; and the notion that summer vacation should include perfectly planned, stimulating outings was simply foreign to us. We certainly didn't travel far, and we were none the wiser.

To Canadians, barbecuing = grilling, and compared to now, it was simple and unsophisticated. We barbecued hot dogs, hamburgers, and that's about it. The stainless behemoths of today did not exist; corn was boiled, not grilled, and tin foil was for wrapping up left-overs - not for making pouches to steam asparagus drizzled in butter and lemon juice.

Trips to the beach were also easy peasy. Bathing suits were optional, in the sense that boys just as often wore jean cut-offs, while girls took impromptu plunges in their terry cloth one piece ensembles. Little ones were often stripped down to their undies and given a pail, shovel, or even a washed out margarine container to dig  in the sand. Sunscreen was unheard of, and pink skin was the norm after a day spent frolicking at the beach. Beach chairs were a luxury - remembered only sporadically - and mothers often tossed their bleach spotted towels at us to lie on. As for snacks, I don't remember if we took any or not - but if we did, they would undoubtedly be no match for the virtual smorgasbords we mothers pack for our children today. Back then, we were more inclined to strain to hear the familiar jingle of the ice-cream man, sending up a silent prayer that our mothers had enough nickels and dimes to treat us all.

Even something as simple as lemonade stands were simpler then. I remember lugging an old box down to the curb with a jug full of warm TANG, a few cups, and strong hopes to earn some change for our hero, (yes, again) the ice-cream man. In my house, Tang was orange juice, and even then, I found it a foul brew. I was only too happy to sell it at my stand, so I wouldn't have to drink it at breakfast!

I imagine it must have been easier on our mothers back then, too. I don't think mothers strived to"entertain" us all summer. In fact, we typically hopped on our bicycles and returned only at mealtimes. I didn't know of any mums who did crafts with their kids, in between carting them from activity to activity, or the like. Even flower gardening was more rudimentary: holes were dug for seeds or bulbs, fingers crossed, and flowers seemed to bloom anyway. I have my doubts that hundreds of dollars were spent at garden centers by our parents.

Yes, we were less wasteful back then. Clotheslines were the norm, and it was common for mothers to chat across fences while "hanging out the clothes." Folks gardened more, shopped less, and in a nostalgic way, life just seems easier looking back. However, I then recall the Tang, snapping the ends off of countless baskets of green and yellow beans, and suffocating in our car - crammed in between too many brothers and my sister - choking on a mixture of dust from the dirt road we lived on, cigarette smoke from my dad, and the hot, humid air coming in the windows of our non-air-conditioned car.

Yes, some things were easier, better even...but then I think of the modern inventions and conveniences that we enjoy today. Summer is great, now and then, and it is to be enjoyed for what it is.
After all, no one will deny that the living is easier when warm winds prevail and sand is between our toes.

And it is a feeling we strive to recapture in every page of Summer with Matthew Mead.


 Summer with Matthew Mead is sold only via this website.
Have you ordered your copy yet?


  1. Linda, I was thinking this just the other day when a mom friend asked me if I had booked the kids into any camps yet...yikes what have we turned into?
    Great piece - brings back memories!

  2. Yes, this brings back lots of memories! Things were so very different then. Much calmer and simpler. I love the photo you posted of the Good Humor Man. That is how I remember it! Our Good Humor Man was named "Happy" and we would get so excited and run whenever he was in the neighborhood. Fun post to read. Thanks!

  3. Love this post! Yes, it was my day back my father says...campers and tents were the only way to afford to have a vacation. I lived in the late 60's as a child and this was exactly how my summer was spent. How I wish we could go back to simple times...

  4. Great post...and I just can't wait for the warm breezes to blow! xoxo Beth

  5. Love this! It is finally unseasonably warm here in Colorado and I am getting Spring fever. This blog is so pretty. And yes, summers were simpler "back then". My mom never entertained us as kids. We found our own entertainment at the creek or in the woods, setting up a fort. Aaaahhh, the good 'ol days.

  6. Thank you for a walk down your summertime road. It was a pleasant journey as I found myself remembering my own simple summers spent swimming in a river with no parental supervision or life guard. Oh how have times changed! Waiting for summer to begin and the opportunity to relish warm days...

  7. Great post! We both know that Nova Scotia winters are never ending. I long for the days of summer--AM radio blasting on our way to the lake. And Mom would wouldn't see us all day! If we had asked my parents to take us to Magic Mountain they surely would have laughed at the four of us!

  8. I loved it when we would spend all afternoon outside and wouldn't come home until we heard Mom or Dad call us for dinner.

  9. Ah yes....the good ole days of Mother telling us if we couldn't sleep because it was too hot to turn our pillow over to the cool side. The Avon colognes that looked like roll-on-deodorant that were kept in the fridge and it was a treat to be allowed to roll some on your pulse points to cool you. I could go on and on, but right now the wind is howling, it is frigid and the lovely winter vacation is but a memory :)

  10. Our Rambler station wagon was our mobile tent in the early 60's when we traveled. Roll up a towel in the window for a curtain, 3 sisters in the way back under blankets at night, mom & dad in the front seats. The simplicity of it brings me such joy.

    Just the other day I was thinking that I needed to ask my 23 year old what he remembers most from childhood -- maybe I will start with summer memories.


  11. So well said. Thanks for stirring similar memories in so many of us. Yes, I do believe life was much better when it was simpler. I can't wait to make some new summer memories :)


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