Posted tagged ‘gutters’

“It isn’t how much time you spend somewhere that makes it memorable: it’s how you spend the time.”

July 13, 2017

The weather is crazy. It is sunny then cloudy then sunny again. The humidity is so thick you can cut it with a knife (my father loved that old saw. The wording is repetitive, I know,  but what the heck). It is supposed to rain later today and again tomorrow. I have nowhere to go so I’m just fine with rain.

When I was a kid, I loved summer rains. We used to stay outside and get wet, even soaked. The stronger the rain, the more the fun. We’d splash at each other with the rainwater running down the gutters in the street. Sometimes the water ran so strongly it resembled a river with white rapids, or at least it seemed that way to us. Paper boats never had much of a chance. I think my love of the rain came from the joy we felt during summer storms.

We didn’t always go on vacation when I was a kid. Mostly we stayed home and did day trips, what they call a staycation now. I think my family invented that. We kids didn’t care. My mother and father planned great excursions. We did beach days. I remember swimming in water left by low tide and surrounded by sand bars. The sandwiches always had a bit of grit. We’d walk the beach and collect shells. By the end of the summer, I’d have quite a collection.

I remember the museums. They weren’t air conditioned in those days, but they always felt cool, the way my hometown library and post office did. I have two vivid memories of stuff at museums. At the Museum of Fine Arts, I remember the sarcophagi. They were in one giant room and they looked enormous to me. I was impressed and amazed they once all held mummies. At the Peabody Museum at Harvard I remember the outrigger hanging from the ceiling and the ape heads in jars. For some reason those heads fascinated me. They were in rows, jar after jar.

We went to the drive-in often as my grandfather had a pass so our car got in free. Bringing bug juice and popped corn from home and candy from the store made it a fairly inexpensive evening. There were always two movies and an intermission. The first movie was for kids and the second for adults as kids were expected to have fallen asleep by then or why the pajamas?

We’d go out to dinner one night during our stay at home vacation which was such a treat as we seldom went out to dinner. We’d go to Kitty’s in the next town over. It was always busy and cheap enough. I remember the waitresses carrying huge trays with several plates of foods on them. I watched kind of hoping to see plates hit the floor. They didn’t.

It never occurred to me we stayed home because we didn’t have the money for an away vacation. All the wonderful day trips are what I remember the most. I love museums thanks to those trips. I have seashells on display in the kitchen. Our Saturday outside movie nights are like the drive-in without the car but not without the candy.

“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.”

August 31, 2014

Last night a cool breeze made the night chilly. My friend Clare was dressed for an Arctic expedition. A sweatshirt was enough for me, and I was still bare-footed. The deck movie was Capricorn One, released in 1977. It was about a Mars landing hoax which got me thinking about the moon landing. I know I’ve mentioned I heard the description of the landing as it was happening but from the radio on VOA during training in Ghana. The Ghanaians also heard it so none of us actually saw the one giant leap for mankind. Many Ghanaians don’t believe it was real. They think it was faked for the radio. Capricorn One would fit right into that theory.

We cancelled Clare’s sled dogs when the breeze disappeared and the night got warmer, but it still felt more like mid-September. I don’t remember the last hot night or when I had to use my air conditioner. This has been a spectacular summer for weather.

When I was a kid, a summer rainstorm was my favorite of all. The rain hitting the pavement caused steam to rise, and the cool rain and the hot pavement together had a distinctive smell, a summer smell. The street gutters were rivers of fast-moving water carrying leaves and paper to the grates over the sewers. Sometimes paper would get caught on the grate and the water would rise. We’d splash through the gutters barefooted and clear the grates so the deepened water would flow like a waterfall into the sewer. It made a roaring sound.

Sometimes when it rains I go on the deck and sit under the umbrella. Above me I can hear the rain tapping as it falls. The leaves glisten with drops of rain. All around is wet, but I stay dry. I love a summer rain.

“Autumn is marching on: even the scarecrows are wearing dead leaves.”

October 13, 2012

Today is cold. It was 45˚ when I woke up, but I didn’t need to see the thermometer to know how cold it was. Fern and Gracie, my weather indicators, were snuggled beside me. None of us wanted to leave the warm bed.

I just heard one of the sounds of summer, my lawn being mowed. I went outside afterwards to water some mums and could only faintly smell the cut grass. Summer is fading away quickly. The sun shines sharper and much cooler. We’re thankful now for fall flowers and days in the low 60’s. They’re the warm days.

The cape is never a riot of color in the autumn. The scrub oak turn red. I have several in my yard, and the red has begun to appear. One tree in my yard turns yellow, but only a few of the leaves have turned. It is not peak season in my yard as yet.

When I was young, the gutters along the sides of the streets were filled with leaves. The leaves were piled so high they covered the edges of the sidewalks. We used to love to walk to school in the gutters kicking up leaves as we walked. They’d whirl in the breeze and scatter into the street. Sometimes we’d pick up a pile of leaves and throw them at each other. We’d try to be the quickest at tossing them, but it always seemed a tie. Leaves got stuck in our hair, but we didn’t care. We’d always end up laughing for the fun of it.

On the way home we’d stop whenever we saw the perfect leaf. Usually it was bright red or yellow. We’d pick it up and carry it carefully by the stem or put it inside a book. At home, we’d quickly get into our play clothes. My mother would bring out the iron and put it on a low setting. We’d take wax paper and our leaves and carefully sandwich the leaves between two pieces of the wax paper then we’d iron over them, the leaves and the paper. The wax would preserve the leaves, and they became our permanent reminders of the bright colors of fall. In the winter, when everything was stark and cold, those leaves reminded us of warmer days, of the beauty of the season and the fun of throwing leaves at each other.