Pat’s Bits & Pieces- Dog Days of Summer

July 19, 2013

Pat Maurer, Review Correspondent

The “Dog Days” of summer were named because it was the hottest time of year, the time when dogs were most likely to contract hydrophobia (rabies).

We have been experiencing definite “dog days” lately. At least they are just about driving me mad…

The thermometer has been hovering in the 90s with humidity at nearly the same level. It’s a killer combination in Michigan, and a real danger to our senior population without air conditioning. I know I am spending most of my time inside trying to keep cool.

Luckily we seldom see much more than a couple of weeks of this type of weather during the summer, but it can be pretty miserable while it is here. It almost makes me wish for February again…

By the way, the heat index is 95 degrees this afternoon and I just saw a commercial on TV advertising “back to school.” Man, that just doesn’t seem possible already, but I guess the kids only have a few weeks of freedom left, so they better make the most of it.

They are, at least my granddaughters are. Alea is away on a trip to Cedar Point. Alison and friend Ashlan are here with me today and they have been on the go all afternoon as I sit here at the computer trying to work.

Inside their Wii game is getting a workout again. They spent a couple of hours playing earlier today and now after a swim in the river, a little sun bathing, making videos and a bike ride they are at it again.

Wish I had some of that energy. Kids always seem to be able to find something fun to do in the summertime don’t they?
When they were littler, a garden hose and a few puddles in the driveway meant hours of fun. Watching the ants and their busy little lives was always a great distraction. Catching minnows and swimming in the shallow part of the Tobacco out here was always a big attraction, although now that they are older, a trip to Herrick Park to swim is even better.

Summers are made for kids, having fun and making memories. When I was a kid I got to make my own memories.

Fishing, swimming, biking, canoeing and exploring were my mainstays from June through August. I didn’t have a grandma to visit, but I spent a lot of time at my Aunt Ruby’s and Uncle Sid’s.

They had the Au Sable River in their front yard to wade in and a hammock in the yard to swing in. Plus a couple of kids my age (the Ash boys) just across the river. We would spend whole afternoons poling their canoe upstream just to paddle back down.

That river was so cold, your feet would ache when you put them in – but we jumped in and went swimming anyway.

Around home there was always something to do. Without TV and video games we were forced to make our own fun, but it didn’t seem like much of a problem.

When I was short on playmates, I would go to Summer Recreation, which included activities and games at the school and a bus trip to Higgins Lake for an hour swim.

When my cousins were up for a visit there were ball games in the yard during the day and card games in the evenings.

A couple of trees growing nearly horizontal out of the bank along the road became an African jungle when the neighbor kids and I were in the “Tarzan” mode.

Stargazing was a favorite evening activity as was catching lightning bugs. One of my very favorite evening memories is sitting on the porch listening to the Whippoorwills singing in the woods.

I spent every day outside. I went barefoot so much the bottoms of my feet were tough enough to walk on hot asphalt.

Tommy Patch (who visited his grandparents down the road every summer) and I went canoeing down the Au Sable on the Mason Track every chance we got. We built – and fell out of – tree houses, built forts and explored every path in the woods we could find.

For four or five of those summers between the ages of 9 and 14, we were “best buddies.”
That’s what makes summer so much fun – making memories.

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