Last Friday, summer officially began. Even though school had already finished and graduation had already occurred, we still hadn't had the solstice yet, so we were only riding on the edge of the summer season. Then, right on cue, people started heading to the coast, to the river, to the mountains and to the parks.
Even growing up as a farm kid, summer vacation was a special time. There were hours spent splashing around in Katemcy Creek, climbing around in the granite rocks, bicycling all over the north end of the county and fishing at the tank between irrigation moves.
Even the work was a welcome break from the school year. The hours spent moving irrigation pipe, hoeing weeds, clearing rocks from the field and repairing fences were spent outside in the fresh air. For snacks, we would sneak down to the garden and grab a tomato off the vine, or maybe even pop open a watermelon if we were really hungry. Cleaning up all the juice from our snacks required only a quick run through the sprinklers.
July was always the best month of all. First up was Brady's July Jubilee. We saved up money so that we could go over and spend one whole evening riding the Zipper, the Tilt-A-Whirl, the Roundup and the Ferris Wheel. We know the games were all rigged; but, we couldn't help ourselves and would do darts or ring toss, and sometimes even bingo. By the end of the night, we had cotton candy in our hair, all our change had fallen from our pockets on the rides, and we would fall asleep on the ride back home.
Just a week later was the Jaycee Rodeo in Mason (it wasn't yet Round Up). For we kids, there was goat sacking or calf riding, and we could watch the antics of the clowns. The bull riders and barrel racers provided the high adrenaline for the evening. We didn't attend the dances till many years later; but, we could always hear the music drifting down from the Slab as the band would warm up for the evening performance.
As the heat of summer continued, the water in the creek would turn tepid, then disappear. The sandy fields became hotter, and the sprinklers were the only relief from the relentless sun bearing down on us throughout our workday.
We would watch clouds building during the heat of the day. We learned to judge the probability of them actually providing any rainfall, and we knew when to look for cover if lightning or hail approached. When tropical systems hit the Texas coast, we often had days of unending rain, and spent even more days looking for lost livestock, repairing water gaps, and fixing pasture roads that had washed and rutted.
By the time summer began drawing to a close, I was ready to see my school friends again. Often, there were kids that I would not see at all between May and August, so the return to school meant having a social group once more. Of course, we did have our Katemcy group of friends and we enjoyed riding motorbikes, paying baseball games and last hikes up into the rocks as our end to summer. There were the Kidds, the Nobles, the Langes, the Jordans and the Zapatas. Some summers, the group also included the Whites, the Jaques and even our cousins, the Whitakers, the Taylors, the Dockals and the Sturdivants.
Summer is here once again, and it holds the potential for more fun, and more adventures. By the time late August rolls around, all of those things will just be memories; but, they are memories that will remain with us for the rest of our lives. And, they only get better as each year passes.
It’s all just my opinion.