Summertime. June, the perfect month for anyone who enjoys summer and has an advantage of a time without responsibilities. As a student for 17 years and a teacher for 35, summer was a smorgasbord of possibilities. As a youth growing up around Amery, WI, the choices were nearly endless.
It’s been common to lay out summer as endless possibilities, and that’s how I felt both as a student in elementary and high school. College years, a blur, because I had to scramble to make money for the fall and tuition. But after I became a teacher, that wide-open feeling returned. The warm months were a time to travel, to sleep in, to stay up late, and to look ahead to the week on Sunday night and say: I don’t really have anything specific that I have to do this week.
As a 12-year old, before and after, because I lived in the country, it felt like a huge playground. West of Amery living in a small house with a barn and sheds nearby, the area became a rural laboratory. The pasture in back of this small farm seemed endless, and it was here where I found the hidden cave (fiction, I’ll admit) but also became the camping in heaven spot. Three friends and I spend a couple nights near the banks of Pike Lake, and we were free free free.
Living east of Amery, a little older, I didn’t have as much to explore but the creek called, Bull Brook on the map, and fishing for bullheads in June felt so heartening. Sometimes I’d have enough to clean (Dad’s lesson) but they weren’t great eating, tough Mom gave it her best effort. The creek in the early spring showed some signs of life, but in summer the gargling red winged blackbirds and other birds claimed the area for themselves but also seranaded me as I fished and just went there to see if I could spot bullheads swimming out from under the shadow of the bridge.
Summer was time to mow lawns, swim, read mysteries, and bike the countryside. With all that, I don’t recall thinking back to school was so terrible since I enjoyed and did okay in school. Back with friends, but also knowing that checking the calendar, there were the summer months the following year.