I was not one of those kids who got bored during the summer holidays. Curiosity might have been part of it, I don’t know. I remember practicing to be Nancy Drew by picking up gum wrappers, thinking they might hold clues to something. Curiosity maybe, or just early litter warrior tendencies.
For what it’s worth, here follows my own (as well as I can remember details) instructional on summertime activities of the kind that guarantee… absolutely guarantee, non-boredom. You are welcome.
Play Tom Sawyer unsupervised at the edge of the Welland Canal. This is before it’s fenced, when you can still get to the edge of it, sit yourself right down, dangle your feet over the water, tie a string to a stick and a marshmallow to the string and hope for the best.
Use your mother’s sewing chalk to draw a hopscotch on the sidewalk.. Use a wee bit of chain as your thrower thingy. Lands just right.
Climb a tree.
Eat lunch in a tree. (Potato salad recommended.)
Read a book in a tree.
Read a book under a tree.
Ride your bike across the canal to steal peaches from orchards that are no longer there. Stop to watch tadpoles in ditches and a horse in a field and get slightly lost but don’t let that concern you. You have peaches.
Bury people and self in sand at the beach then gritty with sand, eat ice-cream then swim all the dreck away.
Spit watermelon seeds for distance AND accuracy.
Hide in a boxwood hedge in order to read comics while you are supposed to be taking tennis lessons somebody other than you thought was a good idea.
Orange popsicles. Also cherry. Not blue. Not rainbow. NOT banana. Maybe grape. Not chocolate.
Cheerios in the morning like that kid on the TV ad whose day is made perfect simply by eating Cheerios in the morning. (There’s a rare and specific quality of morning air… not sure if it’s light or temperature or a combination of many stars aligning but even now it conjures up the excitement of those ‘Cheerios mornings’, pedaling into one horizon or another, the bliss of freedom.)
Start a club and call it the Boogie Woogie Club. Hold the first meeting in your rec room but don’t actually have any idea of its purpose. Disband the Boogie Woogie Club. (Trust me, it’s still a wild ride for a couple of hours.)
Dance in your bedroom. Think: man, I have some moves…
Sing ‘Country Roads’ in the backseat of an Oldsmobile your dad calls Mabel on the way to some rented cottage on Oxtongue Lake where you meet an older girl who is a little free and easy with her favours to various chaps, nothing of which you will understand until years later when, in retrospect, you realize there was a reason you weren’t allowed to join her on her evening blueberry picking outings and who you become pen pals with and when you grow up and move to Toronto (where the free and easy girl lives) you stay with her family for a few weeks until you almost lose your mind from the madness of their life and find a shared apartment instead, where your new roommate turns out to be a middle-aged diabetic alcoholic named Peggy who is often passed out in her bathrobe when you come home from work.
Go fishing with your dad on Oxtongue Lake.
Freshly mown grass.
Tag. Hide and Seek. Simon Says. Red Light Green Light. Fort.
A yellow transistor radio set at CHUM. Disregard static.
Graze in the garden… red currants, carrots, peas, pears, plums.
Drink straight from the hose. Ignore awful taste. It’s faster than going inside.
Have picnic suppers on the beach when your parents get home from work.
Remember your dad’s Hawaiian shirt and your mother’s muumuu and that one night when you all danced in the rain on the patio.
Remember the sweet nothingness, the very point of summer.
Other (not always) wordless friends: