I look at the patchwork quilt of glorious colors that blanket the mountains outside my window and I know for most people around here these are the Sweetest Days. Certainly all the leaf-peepers clogging our roads each weekend would agree. (My children, however, think all these folks are nuts to leave the splendor of the city to come up here and gawk at trees.) I do feel just a bit sorry for anyone who does not live in New England right now. (Oh, don’t worry, y’all get back at me when it starts snowing next month … and again in May – sometimes June – when it’s still snowing!) The colors are explosive, the pumpkins are fat, and the leaves crunch agreeably under foot. The nights are just starting to smell of cozy wood fires.
Yes, these are sweet days. But the sweetest? Not for me.
The sweetest days for me were spent during the last summer of freedom before the world set up house on my shoulders. It was the summer after we graduated from college, but just couldn’t bring ourselves to leave our college town. (Okay, I couldn’t leave because all my extra-curricular activity had caught up with me and I was still three credits shy of a diploma.) Not exactly days of wine and roses; these were more like days of beer and mayonnaise. Ahh … the beer flowed freely (it MUST have because, I swear, I do not remember having a job that summer … but I do remember drinking. Well … vaguely …) and the mayonnaise? Maybe it was the diet of cold pasta salads that we lived on (and the aforementioned beer), but our household of three women had no less than five jars of mayonnaise in the refrigerator at all times.
It was the Summer Of Love, as one of my housemates called it, because with half our housemates gone, there was plenty of room for … ahem … sleep-overs. And for me, it was the summer of the Oneonta Sweetheart (you’ll meet him in my book). No, he wasn’t the Prince Charming with whom I am blessed to spend the Happily Ever After. But he was a lovely Knight in Shining Armor. It was the summer of Fannying Down the Susquehanny – an innertube race, on a day and a river so beautiful, we couldn’t be bothered to actually hurry. So we came in dead last – perhaps it was that extra innertube stocked with beer and fried chicken that we dragged along. Or maybe it was all the laughing we did along the way.
It was the fleeting moment in time that I felt sure I could fix all the ills of the world – after all, I had managed to fix the broken telephone! It was the summer of getting out of jail – not free – but at 6 AM on the eleventh day (they could not WAIT to get rid of us peaceniks. All the yoga and singing “We Shall Overcome” was starting to agitate the real criminals.) and me wiping out on the wet grass as I cartwheeled back into freedom. Amazing what ten days on the “inside” will do to a person. I had forgotten about dew in the morning! And stars at night! That night I sat with the Oneonta Sweetheart on a hillside and watched a million shooting stars fall from the sky and wondered how he’d orchestrated that just for me.
Yeah, it was the time when anything and everything could happen. Our futures were a blank slate then – frightening for some. But for me – I saw an entire world of possibility out there. And I knew I was just pausing on the brink, reveling in that last languid summer before diving into it all.
PPS – The site was down most of yesterday due to technical difficulties. So be sure to check out Deb Tiffany’s post as well if you didn’t get to it yesterday.
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