Dog Days of Summer

By Liz, mostly enjoying the heat wave at the beach

And no, for once this post is NOT about my dogs!

I don’t know about where you are, but it’s been hot here in Massachusetts this week. 

I don’t mind it, honestly – I’m way more of a warm person than a cold person, although humidity is not my friend. But whenever we hit the dog days of summer, It actually reminds me of my childhood summers—my absolute favorite time of the year when I was a kid. (Who am I kidding – it’s my favorite time of the year period.)

I absolutely lived for summer. The social aspect of school was always a lot for me, and when summer rolled around and I didn’t have to go pretend to fit in every day, I was super relieved. The days stretched out ahead of me like there was all the time in the world. I always had a stack of books, and I was lucky enough to have a small, above-ground pool in my yard. 

The house I grew up in back then was only one of three on the entire street. Between my house and the one behind it, there was a patch of land where wild blackberry bushes grew. One of my favorite memories was taking a bowl out back and picking tons of blackberries. My mother also had a huge garden with blueberry trees and strawberry plants, so berries were a big part of that summer feeling. To this day, there’s nothing like summer berries to take me right back. 

Photo by Mario Mendez on Unsplash

Back then, it was pretty common to spend most of the day outside. I rode my bike all over the neighborhood exploring, making up stories to keep myself entertained. I’d come home for lunch and watch a couple of Monkees reruns—another one of my favorite memories, I adored that show!—then head right back outside. 

On special days, my mother would take us to the beach. I could usually tell when it was going to be a beach day—I’d hear her downstairs earlier than usual getting things ready, checking to see when low tide was that day, packing snacks in a cooler. Those were the best days—we’d go to Salisbury Beach and set up shop, and I’d spend the rest of the day in the water. I usually made a new friend or two to swim with. 

Other days, we’d head over to my grandparents’ house, another favorite pastime. My grandpa and I would sit outside and talk on the stone lions that stood guard outside the house. On the days when it was too hot to do that, we’d hang out on the screened-in porch and eat snacks. 

When my dad came home from work, we’d usually swim in the pool together for a bit. I’d show him the new stroke I’d learned at my swim lesson, or we’d have races. I think he usually let me win. On weekends, we’d hang out together while he did yard work. Our backyard seemed so big back then, with the smell of fresh-cut grass and summer barbecues lingering over it. 

The ice cream shop at the bottom of our street was a frequent stop, either on our way home from somewhere or we’d make a special trip after dinner. Chocolate-vanilla swirl soft serve was my go-to then. I can’t pass a soft-serve ice cream shop without thinking about that place. It’s a travel agency now (I actually can’t believe they still have those!). 

Photo by Dylan Ferreira on Unsplash

I think one of the reasons I love summer so much is because of these memories. Aside from the warm weather, of course. 

Readers, what’s your favorite childhood memory? Leave a comment below!

20 Thoughts

  1. We would go camping and sometimes with our neighbor and get adjoining sites. We had so much fun together, swimming, playing games or just taking walks and listening to our transistor radio. My Mom and our neighbors Mom had fun together too just cooking together and reading and putting up with 9 crazy kids. We are still friends today. I still remember all of their birthdays and though we have moved away we still stay apart. When we have family reunions we get invited to theirs and vice versa.

  2. Lovely memories, Liz! I have some of the same – riding my bike, picking berries, and reading books, so many books, read outdoors in the shade with a big chocolate milkshake I would whirl up in the two-speed blender. Plus Swim lessons and the small backyard pool. Making up games with friends. Playing group games like Mother May I on the front lawn.

    And the beach. Probably similar to you, it was an hour’s drive, so we would stay all day and sometimes into the evening, making a campfire on the beach and roasting hot dogs. Very fond memories.

  3. Being an Army brat, summers meant vacation time and heading back south to visit relatives. We knew when the sun shined through the windshield that Dad would be stopping for breakfast or supper. It was fun to be able to order what we wanted regardless of the time of day. Usually we drove straight through from CA to OK, but on the way back, when you weren’t as excited about getting there, we would stay a night in a motel. They would make sure to pick one with a pool. Vacations were a 30 day adventure that we always looked forward to.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  4. What I remember most is the freedom! Biking, playing in the woods, climbing trees, going to the beach – every day was an adventure!

  5. My favorite place in the summer was my grandmother’s (and then my mother’s) house in the Poconos in PA. We lived in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and anyone who ever has been there in the summer knows that it is very hot and humid, and I was a kid before air conditioning. We left every Friday for the mountains and home evey Sunday until the last couple of weeks before Labor Day, when my Dad took his vacation and we spent the entire time up there. We roamed the area, walked to the general store for candy or ice cream, or went to the local swimming hole in the creek to spend the afternoon in freezing cold water. We loved every minute of it!

  6. I loved my grandmother’s farm in Kentucky–horseback riding, blackberry picking (and eating) swimming in creeks. Ah, that was the life.

  7. Great memories, Liz!

    Wow, those halcyon days of childhood summers. As a young kid we’d reverse engineer the snowbird season and drive to visit my cousins in Florida. My folks would often leave me in Miami and return for me in a month’s time. Barefoot and well beached. It was glorious. As I grew into the teen years, being a Jersey girl, the shore played a big part in my summer. We’d often rent a house and stay for a couple of weeks while I walked the boardwalk, listened to bands, and tried my best to look old enough to get into the dance clubs. Fun times and little wonder I think I’ve got salt water in my veins.

  8. Back when kids didn’t have to be watched every minute and have their days planned out for them by adults, summers were a time of adventure and exploration. I would be outside all day playing in the undeveloped park, or discovering where the creek went (complete with loads of mosquitoes), climbing in the house under construction when the workers weren’t there, riding my bike a couple of miles to the the public pool. None of these things are “done” these days and it is such a shame. It’s how we learned to grow up to be independent adults.

  9. My entire family used to go to Hampton Beach in summers, which is a neighboring town of Salisbury Beach. We did go to the amusement park in Salisbury Beach, but not the actual beach itself. I was also a Monkees fan, but I never watched the reruns. I saw the actual series for the entire two years that it was on television.

  10. When I was a child, we would go to West Virginia every year for the last two weeks of August. My Mom was one of eight children. The house she was raised in still stands. The majority of the family always tried to come during this time. I would be able to hang out with my cousins. There was a creek right across the road. We would go over and play in the water. We would try to catch lightening bugs. We would put them in jars. Thank you for letting me share some memories. God bless you.

  11. Great memories, Liz! I did a lot of biking and lounging at the library. When I was young, we also were able to save up and have a few coastal vacations. I loved the beach!

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