It was a lazy summer afternoon. The
heat was almost unbearable with the humidity sitting at 98% and the thermometer matching it. Of course we wouldn't really realize the full impact of the heat and humidity until we were grown and had traveled to other dryer places in the country. To us, as kids, this was just summer and it was hot. We thought it was like this everywhere. Texas
We loved the three month summer vacation except for the work that had to be done in the fields. Any kind of work was miserable in those conditions. Sometimes even play could be miserable so most of the time we just sweat, drank tons of ice tea from mason jars and tried to ignore it.
Looking back on this, I am not sure what was so great about summer vacation because we were stuck on the farm, but I guess we preferred it to being stuck in the classroom. Most of
the time we all enjoyed each others company and would entertain ourselves in many ways.
"Oh look at that one!" my sister Scherri exclaimed. "It looks just like a face. See the nose and the chin is right there."
"Yeah, yeah I see it and there's a giraffe," I chimed in. “His head is above those trees over there, to the right of the face. See the long neck over to the left?”
"Duh, yeah," she said.
"Oh look, there is a rabbit forming over there," my sister Bonni sounded ecited as she joined the conversation,"see the ears coming up?"
We were lying on the grass in the back yard watching the clouds form shapes as they rolled by. Most days the sky was a brilliant blue and there were lots of big, cumulous clouds to be seen everywhere.
We were sticky from the heat and itchy from the grass, but this was one of our favorite passtimes and a good way to take a break from all the childhood games we invented.
After breakfast we had walked up the dirt road, past our grandparent’s house, to the highway to watch the cars go by. One of our games was to pick a certain color of car for that day and we had to watch the road until that color went by. Once it did, we could go home.
The chickens clucked and scattered as we walked by, pecking at some invisible seed in the dirt and gravel, like they did all day everyday.
About an hour later an old red car passed by on its way to town. That was today’s color, so we headed home and found our tin cans and pieces of window screen and spent the rest of the morning sifting dirt we had gathered from the ditch and the front yard.
That black dirt had such an earthy smell about it. It started out as clods in different sizes, so we would sift for hours to get it real fine and then make our mud pies. Sometimes we would mix some hay in to make it different and then lay them out in the sun to dry.
Beads of sweat clung to our upper lips and rolled down our cheeks as we sifted and sifted. The air was so still. Every now and then a welcome little breeze came along which felt oh-so-good, in spite of the fact it carried with it the usual farm smells of the chicken coup and the cow pasture.
During the summer months the clouds could darken quickly and a cool brisk breeze would start up. We would all go outside on the porch to cool off. The rain would pelt the place in gigantic drops. These quick thunderstorms didn't last long, but were such a relief from the heat. Then of course afterwards, when it was over, it was hotter than ever. The ground would steam and it wasn't long and it was dry and dusty again with the cracks that formed on the top layer of that black dirt giving it the appearance that it hadn't rained for months.
Now, as we older girls lay and watched the clouds roll by, we made chit-chat and wondered when Daddy would be back from town. He had gone with Papaw, after breakfast, to take care of some business. When he came back we were going to cut into a couple of big watermelons. They were from the garden and were chilling in the bottom of the ice box.
While still lying in the grass, we looked around and saw the old, wood picnic table and benches which is where all nine of us would be gathered later, laughing and talking and eating waternlelon. A big pecan tree, with its spreading branches, shaded part of the small back yard. Beyond that was the pasture with its fence posts and barbed wire to keep the cows in.
The back door to the house was open and it revealed a long hallway which was part of the addition to the house when the bathroom and a bedroom were added. We knew later on there would be a line in that hallway as we waited to use the bathroom. That was one thing about watermelon, but the inside bathroom was a definite improvement over the outhouse.
When we were younger we were allowed to strip down to our underwear to eat that juicy watermelon. The three of us had to laugh as we thought about stripping down to our undies.
The juice was sticky and sweet and would get everywhere. Then you could hose yourself off. It was so much easier. Now this privilege was only for the younger kids.
"I wonder if we have time for a quick game of jumprope or hide and seek?" Scherri wanted to know what we thought.
Before we could answer we heard the old pink and white station wagon sputter to a stop in front of the house and we knew Daddy was home.
We got up and brushed ourselves off as we walked around the house, which stood up on cement blocks. Some of the old, brown fake brick siding was peeling off in places.
Everyone was gathering by the green, front door. The funny thing about that is that it was one of the few things that was ever painted in that house. As an adult it makes you wonder about this, but as kids we just accepted it and never thought to ask why the rest of the house was bare wood two by fours.
We just took joy in the simple things and our mouths were already watering at the thought of that watermelon.