It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood, a magical combination clear skies, warm temperatures, and very low humidity. It is a perfect summer day, one that I am enjoying to the fullest. All too soon, like tomorrow, the humidity will return, dulling the blue skies and heaving her damp blanket over all. I can moan about that another time but, not today.
Today, I have already worked myself up to a good sweat with a kick-butt workout at the gym, and then treated myself to a leisurely lunch out with a good friend. The garden is looking grand in its new and improved design. I'm happy and proud to say that all my efforts have paid off.
And now as I sip a soothing macchiato, my mind takes me back to summers of my childhood. As a kid, I loved the summer. Happy days of wind in my face bike riding and hot days cooled in the backyard pool made summer an absolute delight. We didn't have a heater so a pool freshly filled in June began at 16C (or less!) and crawled its way to a blistering 23 by mid-August. Those were the days of Fahrenheit, so "Arthur" our pool thermometer actually registered 74. One banner year I recall 'Arthur' made it all the way to 78F.
|Me chillin' in the pool, 1978|
For years, in the early part of June, while Dad was at work, Mom and I added buckets of hot water to the pool. When my Dad came home, he splashed his hand in the pool and announced, "It's warming up nicely!" Mom and I just smiled. It was our little secret.
|My Mom, 1971|
|Mom - the hostess with the mostest at summer pool parties. , 1971|
I had another childhood summer secret. I hated thunderstorms; they scared the living daylights out of me, especially the night time ones. Lightning lit up my bedroom, casting scary shadows across the walls. But the thunder was worse. Those ear-splitting, room shaking, gut vibrating booms were beyond my worst nightmare.
I recall lying in my dark bedroom, hands cupped close to my ears. A flash of lightning gave life to the shadows and I began a countdown, my small voice quavering in the dark, "One and one thousand, two and one thousand, three and one thousand, four and one thousand..." until the crash of thunder stopped the count. Each group of four in the countdown, that is every four seconds, between lightning seen and thunder heard measured one mile of distance to the storm centre, or so my Dad the weatherman said.
As the number of seconds between flash and bang decreased, fear increased - exponentially. I never cried out - at least not that I remember. I took it to be a badge of courage to make it through the storm (there's got to be a morning after?). Instead, I counted and shuddered, and counted and moaned, and counted and whimpered, drenched in sweat under blankets and pillow. Truly, the end of the world was at hand.
Well, we don't have a pool here now, and I'm not so terrified of thunderstorms. In fact, I love a good thunder boomer, a ringtail snorter of a rang dang doo, as the character Charlie Farquharson would have described it. Nothing can beat that rambunctious, flashy splash of refreshment. Honesty demands that I confess to a few vestiges of thunderstorm terror in the dark hours.
A low rumble in the distance rouses me. A flash of light dances around the room and the familiar countdown sequence so deeply imprinted on my being begins again. My gut clenches involuntarily in memory of stormy nights past. Most often I just roll over and fall back to sleep but every once in a while the storm is big enough, flashy enough, noisy enough to fully waken the old fear machine.
I tug the pillow tightly around my ears, stretch out my leg until toes touch a sleeping husband for reassurance that I am not alone. In the darkness, a whimper is heard. Surely not I? Hot panting breath hits my not quite buried face, then a cold nose nudges my cheek followed by a heavy paw on my arm.
"Just thought you should know mummy," seventy-five pounds of hyper-vigilant canine warns, "truly, the end of the world truly is at hand."
©2018 April Hoeller