It is summer again.  And again, summer is nearly gone.  This morning I was walking by a school on my way to the busstop.  There was that feeling again, of all those old school days.  The children were dressed in navy and white, plain uniforms.  In my own school days there were no uniforms.  We wore the clothing our parents agreed to buy for us.   These children were playing on a hot playground in mid-summer.  I was one of the lucky ones:  we went back just after Labor Day, in early September.  It made sense.  By then we would have swam all our days away.  We would have been sufficiently sunburned.  We would have healed since the last one.  We would have seen the Fourth of July and sat on the pavement in front of the house with dad while he lit the sparklers for us until they were all used up.  He lit the snakes too.  Next morning you could see the smudgy trail they left behind.  The raw paper fragments of the roll caps were everywhere, waiting to be swept  (my parents did not wait long to assign this task).  On the night of the Fourth we would have worn one of our new school outfits from the shopping trip we would have already had.  I remember in particular my navy-blue and red-and-white plaid shift with the drop waist and pleated skirting.  By that first school day we would have shopped for everything we needed.  It wasn't so hard then, even for three children:  you just shop for different sizes of the same things.  We bought one pair of oxfords or single-strap leather shoes each.  The specific shoe was our choice, within reason (my parents were great at setting boundaries).   In those days  -- in the 1960s  --  they had real shoe salesmen.  They measured your foot almost as soon as you walked in.  Your foot was placed on the wooden incline.  The salesman would go into the back to gather the selection of sizes and styles which he thought best based on the brief interview he would have had with his little customer.  I would have a stack of ten or so.  I loved shoes even then.  I used to keep the one pair boughten for school under my bed until the big day.  I would take them out frequently, out of the small box they came in.  I would have rolled back the tissue to reveal the pair.  I would have smelled the paper smell of the box inadvertently in the process of taking them out, One and then the other I secretly put them on; and walked around the room in them.  This was the exquisite personal moment of shoe appreciation.  I could almost wear them.  But school was still weeks away.  Until then small moments of adoration of the contents of the box would have to suffice.  In those days you had time to be a child and to have summer.  In summer you do many important things.  You have to get skinny and brown.  You have to get stung at least once and howl like a banshee (the neighbors will of course open their doors because you're such a baby to cry when a yellow-jacket stings you).  Summer isn't over until it is fully ripe.  Not until it has become again that exquisite thing in your life are you ready to let it go and start school again.  Signed G. Claire, this 26 August 2011.  Copyright 2011 by G. Claire.<><> 
 


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    G. Claire is a descendant of Welsh Immigrants who came to California during the time of "the Great Excitement," also known as the Gold Rush.  She is, in addition, a descendant of young Mayflower passenger Mary Allerton and of Thomas Cushman, an Elder of the Plymouth Church.  The author is proud to be descended from Silvanus Brown, a member of that most notorious group of Vermont mobsters known as The Green Mountain boys.

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