Summertime has always been a magical time for me, and has always been my favorite season. I like the heat and everything about the season. As the old song says “Summertime and the livin’ is easy.”
My reasons for loving summer are many, but all of them have roots in my childhood. I remember on the last day of school, it was always tradition in my family to go swimming in the river. In my earlier childhood, the whole gang of us loaded into the back of granddads truck and went to the swimming hole behind Teddy Bland’s place below Riverton.
After what seemed like an eternity where granddad stopped and talked to Teddy and let him know that we’d be down at the river, we finally made our way past Teddy's turkey houses, through the hayfields and on back to the river. I remember my granddad would always sing a little ditty that went "I'm goin' swimmin' with bow-legged women" to annoy us, but mostly we ignored his singing because we were so excited to get to the swimming hole.
Mind you this was in early June in the Potomac Highlands and the water wasn't exactly warm, although it certainly didn't matter to us, we'd have gone swimming even if ice chunks had been floating down the river. I remember my aunts and my brother would always ease into the water amid loud exclamations of "ooosh, that's cold", while me and a few of the others would just run right into the river and hit it all at once. Eventually we'd all be in the water and having a great time.
We had games that we’d invented for when we were swimming, like the old “warsh machine” as we called it, to do this you’d get in water about up to your chest and by linking your hands together and making a quick side by side motion, a great foam arose from the water, to us it looked exactly like the water in the old tub of the wringer washer that mom used.
Inevitably, someone would bring soap and shampoo and the older kids would wash their hair and wash up in the river, we didn’t have running water at home (unless you count running to the spring to get it) so it was easier to do this than to haul water up the hill from the spring to wash in. I remember for as far as you could see down the river, there’d be a long trail of soapsuds floating on top of the water.
As we’d eventually wear ourselves out from all the swimming, we’d get out of the water and dry off with towels we had brought with us, some of the girls would lay out on the rocks the dry off in the sun. We’d usually change into dry clothes, that way we could hold up the wet clothes from the truck bed or hang them out of the car window, and let the wind dry them on the way home.
I’m sure we looked like a bunch of gypsies with our wet clothes flapping in the breeze but we didn’t care, we had the whole summer ahead of us.