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Summer's End

Story ID:2654
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family Memories
Writers Conference:$500 2007 Family Memories Writing Project
Location:Sambro Nova Scotia Canada
Year:1970
Person:Me
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Summer’s End

We didn’t have much of a spring this year. It was cold and rainy. A week ago, summer
dropped on us with 90 degree temperatures and humidity so high, the small patch of hair left on
the top of my head became unmanageable.

I sat on my deck the other night, mopping sweat from my face, and pondered coming
summer. My son was excited. His final exams were complete. He had two months to do what he
wanted to do. I remembered what it was like when I was young, in school, and waiting for those
final days of school to end.

On that last day, I was excited. I didn’t hear a word my teacher said. The bell rang,
summer began, and we’d run out the door, yelling and tossing old books into the air. I’d rush
home, show my mom my report card, tell her I graded, and run outside to…to what? I was free
for two months. I could do whatever I wanted, but my mind was blank. The routine of school
was gone. I didn’t know what to do with myself.

My friends were bussed five or ten miles from neighboring communities. They were gone until the fall.

Why was I sad on the last day of school? I should have been ecstatic.

I sat by a rock. My old dog, Blackie, came along, licked my face and settled beside me.
“Come on, Blackie! Let’s go to Grandmum’s.”

My grandmother lived down the street from us and always had a plate of muffins ready.
Sometimes they had white icing and other times pink, but they were always good. It was my
morning routine to visit her for a muffin, a talk, and wait for my Grandfather’s boat to enter
the harbor. When it did, I’d rush to the wharf and wait to see how many fish he’d caught that day.

After a few weeks, a routine set in. I’d wake, go to my Grandmum’s, eat a muffin or two,
play on the shores around the harbor, look for that drifted onto the shores, and go home for
lunch.

In the afternoons, I’d go to the brook – the place to be on hot days. My friends and I
spent every afternoon there. It was a mile from our house and the gathering place for kids of all
ages. We’d bike, walk, or hitch-hike to it every day - sometimes twice a day – towels draped
over our shoulders.

The “Brook” was wide enough to be a river, but it was only a mile or so long. It flowed
from a lake, cutting a rocky swath through the forest. In several spots, the rocks opened to form
natural pools. The two swimming spots were called the “Little Hole” and the “Big Hole.” The
“Little Hole” was shallow and had only a small current. It was perfect for kids learning to swim.
The “Big Hole” was further up the brook. It was deep and had a swift current. It was the place
the big kids went and the little kids envied. Every small kid couldn’t wait to graduate to the “Big
Hole.”

On one side, the “Big Hole” was a pile of rocks, mostly or partly covered with water. On
the other side was a six foot rock cliff. It was perfect for diving. The entrance to the pool was
narrow. Water squeezed quickly through the rocks and dispersed throughout the pool, before
rushed out the lower end. After a heavy rain, the current was strong. If you were a strong
swimmer, you could swim in one spot, until you tired and the waters won the contest.

My friends and I played “tag”. All afternoon, we chased each other, ran over the rocks,
and dived from our pursuers. We were as nimble as mountain goats on the rocks. In spite of the
rocks, no one was seriously hurt. There were a few scrapes, but never serious injuries. Years of
play made us sure-footed.

We had a fish plant. It was an exciting place for a young boy. In the afternoon, the boats
came in with their catch. We’d check to see who brought in the largest catch. I once saw a
halibut that weighed 180 pounds. The sword fishing boats sailed in with fish close to 1000
pounds.

If it was hot, I made extra money going to the store for the workers. On a good day,
I’d make more than a dollar - a lot of money for a young boy in the 1960’s. “Mike, go to the
store and get me a lunch cake and a can of Coke.”
Another said, “If you’re going to the store, get me a pack of cigarettes, a bag of
chips and a Pepsi.” Soon I had an order too large to remember. A man would wrote it on a
piece of paper or cardboard. The store keeper made sure I had the order and the change correct.

Each pocket held a different man’s money. When I delivered, the men gave me a dime, a
nickel, a quarter, or whatever change was left. I saved the money and bought a bicycle. It was the first new bike I ever owned. My other bikes were handed down from my older brothers. By the
time I got them, they were third-hand and in bad shape, but they were mine, even if they were
used.

In the evenings, if we didn’t go to the brook, we’d fish from the wharves, and catch
pollock, cod, perch, and mackerel. Mackerel were our favorite. They fought like demons on the
end of the line and tasted wonderful

The days sped along, and soon August arrived. I hated August. After August came
September, the end of summer, the end of freedom. I’d get depressed and not go to the brook.
I’d still fish a little and still go to the fish plant, but not as often. The start of school depressed
me. I’d stay home and read or walk in the woods. I was withdrawn. September loomed in
the near future - back to the routine I missed back in June. I wasted summer dreading its end.

Sitting on the deck the other day, I realized I was doing it again.

Like many people, I dread the end. We waste time worrying about it. We waste our
August. As a kid, I knew August would end. It was on the calendar. There is no calendar of life.
It could end tomorrow. Don’t waste your August.



Michael T. Smith