The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Days of Summers Past

By Sidney P. Sanford © 1991

Issue: March, 1991

There isn't a better way to spend a hot summer afternoon than to sit on the porch swing and be lazy. Occasionally swinging back and forth or just sitting still looking over the hedges to watch the sun slowly sink behind the mountains. Every once in a while a car may pass by leaving behind a trail of dust. Instantly something strikes a thought that takes me away from the porch swing causing me to reminisce of days of summers past...

On an afternoon in June, I ran through the apple orchard then up the driveway at full force in effort to escape from my spiteful brother. His mischievous ways were pure torture to a timid little girl with the idea of fun being dolls and a tea party. However, I managed to make it safely into the house before his exasperating tricks could catch up. Having been teased with a granddaddy long legs gave me the shivers. Of course my brother found it amusing. Being teased by my brother was just another ritual of summers long ago.

The recollection of our homecomings comes to mind. This was an event to look forward to as mid-summer approached. An event when families gather together bringing flowers to those long past gone and to share stories of family history. There was the aroma of home cooked food that spread across the narrow marble table tops near an old church. Grown ups would reminisce with one another while the children might wander off to the cemetery to chase each other around the headstones. Then there was the introducing over and over to a family member that either didn't make it to last year's affair or just too old to remember. What ever the situation, it was fun listening to my grandmother explain how we all were related.

There were those summer days when the heat was so overwhelming that finding means of relief could be anything. Such as the time my sister and I emptied all the ice trays from the freezer into towels and then carried them over our shoulder. In minutes we were dripping wet. The little bits of ice that remained stuck to the towel were quickly picked off and eaten. After all the ice had been consumed we ran down to the orchard near the barn. Cool air rushed through our wet clothes as we skipped and raced around the apple trees.

Thinking of the orchards reminds me of my daddy. Those trees were so much a part of his life; he was engulfed with the nurturing of his orchards. I can see him now bouncing on the seat of the tractor pulling a contraption through the rows of trees being sure each one was sprayed with the poisonous mixture coming from his rig. Every now and then he might stop and turn around to see how he was doing or stop and stare out into the distance. Maybe a deer eased out of the woods and caught his eye or possibly a snake slithered across the path in front of him so he might sit and hesitate passing. Or it just might be that a thought struck him that took him away from his orchards causing him to reminisce the days of summers past...