How many of you remember returning to school in September and having the teacher assign an essay detailing what you did over the summer?
I sure do and it was always a difficult assignment for me. The resulting paper always went something like this:
1. Set up canvas army-surplus tent in the back yard.
2. Drag every board game from the house to the tent.
3. Install pillows, blankets and flashlights in said tent.
4. Make large signs saying “No Boys Allowed” to hang from the canvas door flap.
5. Raid the kitchen for appropriate summer snacks, fill a very large bag (or box) with books and make a run for the yard.
My family always had a week in the Okanagan or in the Gulf Islands but aside from that precious few days, my siblings and I were largely left to our own devices for the majority of the summer. Most of the time, occupancy dictated the activity within the tent.
For example, my sister and I would read novels, comics and teen magazines for hours, then switch to making macramé wall hangings or beaded bracelets and purses.
My brother and his friends liked to play cards and swill pop they bought with their allowance money.
There was intense rivalry between the boys and girls, each vying for time ‘alone’ in the sanctuary of the tent. (Us girls were never invited to these sanctioned events.)
Once a week, if we had done our chores we could go to the corner store with our 25-cent allowance.
We would come back with a paper bag full of penny candy. The girls were always organized, pooling their sweet treasure and doling it out daily to make it last the week.
The boys on the other hand would gobble it all at once, then devise ways to steal choice bits from our stash.
So much of the summer went by in this manner without any pre-planned activities, camps, or parental interference. What did I learn during those long summers?
Well, I learned exactly how much taunting a brother will take before pulling the tent pegs on your tent while you are inside.
I learned how patient my big sister is while she taught me how to tie those meticulous knots. This is where stories came alive for me and will be forever linked to the unmistakable smell of canvas.
Interestingly enough, my siblings and I don’t really recall being bored that often and loved having a domain of our own (even if we had to share it.)
Now that the summer is over, routines are firmly back in place and we find Thanksgiving just around the corner. I’m so thankful for all those lazy summers, the freedom that we had and the close relationships it helped to foster between us.
Not exactly a wild adventure and never easy to put into words when that essay came around in September.
For some great after-summer reading test the Plum Streuselkuchen recipe in Summer Berries and Autumn Fruit by Annie Rigg or introduce the little people in your life to My Leaf Book by Monica Wellington.
Sue Kline is the community librarian for the Summerland Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library.