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Sharon Randall: Summer memories

By Sharon Randall

What are your favorite summer memories? I have lots. One happened just yesterday. I’ll tell you about it. But first, here are some other favorites.

When I was 8, we lived in a house surrounded by pastures and orchards. I spent summer days roaming alone, crawling under barbed-wire fences, eating peaches and dodging cows.

Then a dog showed up, a shepherd sent from heaven. I fed him scraps and called him “Rin,” short for “Rin Tin Tin.” Wherever I went, Rin followed. And I wasn’t alone any more.

Walking home once, we got caught in a storm. Rain poured, lightning sizzled, thunder shook the Earth. We huddled beneath a tree — a girl and a dog taking shelter in each other — until we both stopped shaking. I ate a peach. Rin licked the juice off my face. Then the sun came out and we headed on home.

Sometimes still, when I hear thunder, I close my eyes and I swear I can smell a wet dog.

When was the first time you saw fireworks? I was 10 when the mill where my stepfather worked hosted a Fourth of July Fireworks Extravaganza for the millhands and their families.

I had never seen fireworks or heard the word “extravaganza.” But I was pretty sure it meant eating hot dogs in 100-degree heat, swatting flies and bees and mosquitoes. I didn’t want to go. But my brother, Joe, who was 6 and totally blind, shouted, “I’d sure love to see fireworks!”

So we went. Sure enough, we ate hot dogs in 100-degree heat, swatting flies and bees and mosquitoes. But when the sun went down, the fireworks began and I would never be the same.

Once you’ve seen fireworks, you’ll always want to believe that anything is possible.

The best part of that memory? Joe clapped and laughed with each explosion. He couldn’t see the fireworks, but his mind’s eye could picture them. And I saw them sparkling in his eyes.

Did you ever fall in love with reading? I hope so. Growing up, I spent time every summer with my grandparents on their farm. My grandmother taught me to read before I started school. I liked reading a lot. I especially liked it when she read to me, which she did each night before bed. Then the summer I was 12, she handed me a book as big as a Bible and said, “Read this.”

So I did. For days. In the porch swing. Up in the barn loft. Down by the creek with my feet in the water. In bed late at night with a flashlight under the covers.

It was “Gone With the Wind.” I read it word for word, cover to cover, from “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm….” to “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

And I fell forever in love with Rhett Butler and reading. To this day, summer isn’t summer without a few good books.

Yesterday, my husband and I drove out to Carmel Valley with my daughter and her 6-year-old, Henry, to sit in the sun and hear a friend play music at a winery.

We sat outdoors on sofas, talking and laughing with friends, listening to the music. Henry and a boy his age sat at our feet with a few good dogs and drew Pokemon pictures.

It reminded me of summer evenings long ago, playing in the yard with my cousins while my mother and her sisters sat on the porch singing harmonies.

Driving back from the valley, I asked Henry if he’d had fun.

“Yes!” he said. “I loved being with all those nice people and their dogs, and listening to that wonderful, wonderful music. It was just splendid!”

That’s my latest favorite summer memory. What’s yours?

Here’s wishing you a summer filled with fireworks and laughter, good books, great friends, wonderful music and peaches ripe for eating; a companion to shelter you in every storm; and a child to remind you that life is splendid — and anything is possible.

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 416, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, or www.sharonrandall.com.



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