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Column

Summer heat has arrived with a vengeance

But really, it doesn’t get any better than this

Earlene Campbell
Earlene Campbell

We’ve waited and waited for it. Well, now it’s here. Do we dare complain about the heat? Heck — yes! Why not? We complained about all the water we waded through to get here.

Jerry and I spent our spring putting in a new generator and sump pump, to ward off a flooded basement. We are now prepared for any storms we encounter.

Now that summer is here, I can think of all kinds of fun and drudgery it presents. The drudgery is having to work out in it — sweating and miserable with all the pesky little insects who delight in torturing sweaty bodies.

Any time is dinner time. They nip the flesh, or drink the blood, leaving with a full stomach, and no remorse for the welts, pain and itching left behind.

A lot of the fun revolves around water. The kids knew how to get the most out of any weather. There is nothing like gliding down a water-soaked slippery-slide.

As adults who own the yard, we need to be prepared that the slide area will not recover for a few years. But it is well worth it to see the kids having so much fun laughing and sliding away until their little bodies are water withered.

Sister-in-law Betty and I took our six kids to Pitstick Lake near Ottawa. We would pack a lunch and the kids were set for the afternoon. We also made a trip to our parents’ place at Kentucky Lake. We took along the slippery-slide, fastened it down at the top of a hill in their yard, and the kids had a blast sliding down.

They started out each time standing up, but after slipping and landing hard on their heads or butts, they soon found it best to sit down and work your way to the edge of the slide. They are called slippery-slides for a good reason.

Slippery-slides didn’t exist while we were growing up, but there were no limits on our summer fun. Grandpa Beepaw would sit on his back steps holding the hose while we ran through it, squealing, then he would fill his large aluminum tub (well, it seemed large back then) and we would splash around in it.

After we were cooled off and withered up, we sat with Beepaw and had a seed-spitting contest as we worked our way through watermelon wedges (no utensils allowed). Beepaw always won. But he shared his distance seed-spitting secret with us and, to this day, we come out winners.

Bikes, skates, jacks, baseball

As kids, even if we weren’t in water, we didn’t seem to mind the heat too much. Our best summer memories were riding our bikes, roller skating on concrete sidewalks, playing jacks, jumping rope, backyard baseball, and numerous other outdoor games.

It saddens me to know today’s kids are sitting in air-conditioning playing with electronics. Hearing kids playing outdoors, laughing and building memories, is sweet music to my ears.

Husband Jerry tells a different version of summer while living on the farm. It was one more of drudgery. Once the kids were old enough to remember, they didn’t play — they worked. Hot work — dirty work. Well, as we Sutliff kids got a little older, we did mow the yard with our old reel mower. You know, the kind that didn’t cut dandelions or crabgrass.

When son Brad was 2 years old, our water hose served as a babysitter. I would give him the nozzle with a bit of water spraying out, and he would never go farther than the hose reached. Fill his little plastic pool, and he was good for the day.

I never tired of sitting out in the shade with a glass of lemonade, reading a book while our kids played. As a matter of fact, I am writing this while sitting in my backyard in the shade with a wonderful breeze flowing over me. In place of lemonade and kids, I have switched to iced tea and husband Jerry as he works in the sun.

But for me, it just doesn’t get better than this. Summer has always been my time, and I wear it well.

Have a great one, and don’t forget to F-R-O-G.

Note to readers: Earlene Campbell lives by the FROG motto — Fully Rely On God. She lives in Princeton and can be reached at earlenecampbell@rocketmail.com.

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