When I think of this word, I can’t help thinking of all the summers I spent with my grandparents. I don’t remember when it started, and I don’t remember exactly when I stopped going or why. But every summer, somewhere between the ages of seven and thirteen, I’d fly out to Pennsylvania, to spend the entire summer with my grandparents. I got to fly all by myself, which is scary but exhilarating for a young kid!
My grandparents lived in this little house along the Delaware river. Bridge four, River Road. I can still see it. The area itself is very rural. The house sits under a dense cover of tall trees, and you can’t see it from the main road. It sits in between the Delaware canal and the Delaware River. We had to drive over this little bridge over the canal. It lead to a small group of houses, maybe a dozen or so.
The canal itself is beautiful. There’s a small footpath that runs for miles. You can literally walk for miles in each direction. My grandparents’ house sat along the stream that led from the canal to the river. Upon a search, I happened to find this wonderful site with loads of pictures of the canal and even River Road. http://scenicbuckscounty.com/Canal/Canal.html I can still hear the sound of the little waterfall, as the water from the canal trickled over into the stream. Going home at the end of the summer, I often found going to sleep without that water difficult.
They were very simple summers. My mother’s sister lived with my grandparents back then, so I spent the days with my younger cousin Jeff. We’d run up and down the road, visiting the neighbors. There was the friendly couple who lived a couple doors down. She was a plus sized woman, and she was always laughing. And the “rich guy” at the end of the lane, with the private tennis courts. We’d take walks on the canal each night, down to the next bridge and back. We’d play in the stream quite a lot, or walk the stream down to the river. We’d swim at the edge and watch the tubers go by.
Occasionally, my grandmother would take us to a local pool. It wasn’t very big and the water wasn’t heated, so it was ice cold. On the way home, she’d sometimes stop at this place called The Milk House. It looked a bit like a farmer’s market, and inside they sold the most delicious homemade ice cream, in the biggest scoops we’d ever seen.
I remember the farmer’s markets that littered the area, selling fresh sweet summer corn and fruit. There is nothing like summer corn. My grandmother would make peach dumplings every once in a while. She’d wrap a peach in what looked like pie crust and boil them. When the “crust” was cooked, you’d cut them open and sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar.
Almost every night we’d go out into the field across from the house and chase fireflies. We don’t have fireflies out here in Seattle.
My grandfather has since passed on. It’s just my grandmother now, and they longer own this house. It became too much upkeep and they sold it to buy a newer house in town. So I haven’t seen this place since I graduated high school (I’m going on forty this year), which is about when they sold it. And I have to be honest. Growing up, my home life wasn’t the greatest. My family was dysfunctional. My mother’s boyfriend, whom we lived with, was abusive. He was bi-polar and he self-medicated with drugs and alcohol. So a lot of my childhood memories are painful. But these summers are what I remember. They’re the ones that stick with me. A friend of mine used to call his good memories “gold”. These summers are my gold.
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