Shade Trees and Air-conditioning

This week I’m back at one of my childhood haunts, my aunt and uncle’s house. I have so many good memories tied up in this place. When I was a kid, I’d spend my summers here. This place and these people were some of the great influences in the story of my life. Now I’m back and I’ve brought my kids with me, and they have learned to appreciate the simplicity of life here as well. You see, there is no t.v. here. No video games. There’s a large redwood deck, green grass, a pond, and an embankment with the large stones left from when the fireplace was built. As a kid, I’d pretend I was climbing mountains, but really I was just climbing on those stones.

The beauty of spending any amount of time away from television and games, especially for a kid, is that you get to develop an imagination. From where I sit, I can see the small copse of trees where years ago I made my kids believe in fairies, and to this day they see moss not as moss, but as fairy carpet. They’ve learned not to ask to see their favorite shows and instead are currently covered in dirt from the same embankment, with the same stones, that I played on so long ago. We’re so far out in the country that dirt is a fashion statement.

When the heat chases us inside, we’ll break out the board games. This is where I learned to play Scrabble and chess. When my brother was here with me, Uno was a daily favorite. As much as I love to play the Wii and the Xbox, I sometimes miss the fun and interaction of Pictionary, Boggle, or Monopoly. I know they made these games in different formats, but you can’t really recreate the fun of a board game without, well, the board. (Honestly, who didn’t love the ominous tapping of the pieces against the board when you were playing Sorry? Oh I knocked you back to home? Sorry!! Not!)

Not only did I enjoy romping outside and playing board games here as a child, but this is where I discovered one of the great joys of my life: reading. I was probably 8 or 9 years old when my aunt gave me a stack of Nancy Drew books (originals! I still have them). My love affair with reading became a lifelong passion, and one that I’ve passed on to my own kids. Amazing what you can do on a long summer day without t.v.!

It warms my heart to know that my kids have discovered they can survive without all the modern distractions. Right now the sounds of the birds and a gentle breeze are enough. As the sun climbs, we’ll seek the respite of a shade tree, and when the heat creeps closer to 100 degrees than a mere 90, there’s always air-conditioning inside, because really all you need to enjoy life in the summer is a little imagination, some sweet tea, a shade tree, and air-conditioning.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the sun has shifted and so shall I. It’s getting mighty hot.