Last Wednesday night, Rev. Karyn Allen spoke on the topic “The Summer Soulstice.” She purposely misspelled solstice beginning with “soul.” Her message was about the soul of summer being the activities of freedom and joy that she loved.

For many of us as children, those lazy, hazy crazy days of summer were the times of our lives. They represented freedom, long days of unsupervised play, being with our friends without much restriction, relaxed diets, bike rides, and water activities. Rev. Karyn grew up in Dana Point so she had a perfect southern California summer. She could and did walk to the beach, spent hours at it, perfected her tan, ate tons of deep-fried zucchini, and checked out the cute surfers. 

Although I grew up thousands of miles away, many of her memories struck a chord in me too. As a child and a teenager, up until I got  a summer job, summer days were filled with joy. Our family shared a cabin with extended family at a small lake in southern Saskatchewan. The days seemed endless. Of course it was officially daylight until after 9:00 pm, and until July 14 there was no true night, because it was twilight right up to dawn. Of course there would be swimming, boating, canoeing until it was deep twilight. Then we would often light a bonfire on the beach in front of our cabin and enjoy a singalong and a marshmallow roast. How great we sounded as our voices carried across the still waters of the lake!

My favorite memories include being on top of our one-story cabin, attempting to perfect a tan, with my cousins and friends and with a dangerous mixture of baby oil and iodine! We thought we were so smart. Of course, tans made one look healthy and cute. Little did we know that we were courting aging skin and skin cancer in the future. My best friend was redheaded Lois Cole. Lois often vacationed with our family. The summer I remember most vividly was one in which she got severe burns. Every part of her back and shoulders were blistered. She was in great pain. My mom and my aunt sewed a towel jacket that they stuffed with used cold tea bags. It did relieve the pain. As far as I know, she never that got that burned again.

I loved to swim, dive and water ski. Even as  a child I was very buoyant and had no fear of the water. Skiing was exhilarating for a couple of reasons. One of them was named David, the boy who was teaching me to ski. Also for the rush of being able to stand up on the skis for the first time and to enjoy a ride around the lake.

As kids, we collected beer bottles to sell for spending money. (Our older cousin showed us all the good spots.) Then we would take the bottles to the local store and buy candy with our spoils. I always got licorice. Although now I prefer black licorice, then I loved the red vines.

For many years, even the smell of red licorice would bring scores of summer memories: the smells and sounds of the lake and the damp earth back of our cabin, motor boats, friendship, laughter, romance and joy! And the sound of a certain boy’s voice teasing, “Devil or angel?” as he passed by on his motorboat. The soul of summer is evident in those happy care-free days.

What are your favorite memories of summer?

Waskesiu Lake  in Saskatchewan