The summer season has been gone for a couple of days now. The heat seems to be fading. The air conditioner has retreated to its place in storage as the nights have grown sweatshirt chilly. The sun no longer bakes the sidewalk as we follow it to the schoolyard gates. The ringing of the school bell serves to reinforce that summer is truly over. My house has grown quiet now, for a few hours, as the kids resume their studies in the classrooms. The cool breeze rustling the curtains and carrying the laughter of the kids in the playground during recess gives me pause and a time to recall the memories made this past season.
Our summer began with a trip to DC to celebrate with 250,000 Girl Scouts the 100th anniversary of the organization. The kids were able to spend quality time with their grandparents, doing chores on the farm, helping Grandma (and the seniors) at the county's Senior Center, and swimming in their new pool, filled with icy spring water. The county fair is always a highlight, especially the 4H and livestock displays, although nowadays the trend seems to be moving away from the grassroots and agriculture, mason jars and hayrides and replacing them with carnival rides and boardwalk games complete with hawkers. The summer nights were filled with old-fashioned ice cream windows, dripping cones and fireflies. The croaking of the bullfrogs sang to us as the grill glowed into the summer evenings. The hay was put up early this year, leaving time for some relaxation, and completing some other chores usually not thought about until cooler times.
This summer my kids discovered geocaching, an ingenious way of getting them outside. It is a treasure hunt of sorts, using a GPS, some coordinates obtained from the computer, and some hiking. Throughout the country are hidden little treasure boxes, caches, holding a log book to sign in and some trinkets to trade. By now, they are well versed in the usage of a GPS (Dad loves this aspect), acquiring and applying coordinates (another great aspect), and observing their surroundings for things that seem out of place (wow, 3 for 3). They can not wait to get outside, to go hiking (or caching), and explore new places. With school in full swing, homework is done immediately in the hopes of having some daylight left to get out and look for a new little treasure.
Summer's last hurrah was a road trip to Elysburg, PA and the amusement park in the woods. Knoebels is always a highlight, a rabbit hole in the woods, where old-timey rides go to live forever in their past glory. The admission is free, the paths are shaded, the crowds easily tolerable, and the smiles long. The kids brought one of their friends (and her family) this year. We laughed and ran from ride to ride. The day was shortened by storms but not before we boarded the roller coaster one last time. We have ridden roller coasters before. We have ridden the Twister before. But we have never ridden in a storm before. The young man controlling the ride sent us on our way with an ominous warning that we were on the log flume and that at the top of the ride it looked as if the skies were about to burst. As the clickety-clack of the climbing coaster brought us to the peak of the ride, the clouds unleashed their cargo. The heavens opened and the wind howled. We were pelted by raindrops the size of quarters and it came at us sideways, held captive by the wind. Our clothes were quickly saturated but our smiles could not be wiped clean. We all laughed, almost maniacally, into the face of the storm. The booming thunder punctuated our ride and the operator ended our ride with a "Thank you for riding the washer machine" and that was exactly what a ride inside a washing machine would be like, loud, soaking, swirling.
The summer has ended now. The memories held close, both in our minds and some caught forever through the eye of a lens. The coming cooler weather holds more adventures but for now we must say farewell to Summer.