Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy…
Now that the warm weather is upon us, we are daydreaming about summer and childhood memories. Specifically beaches, forests, farms, good books, a lazy river, fishing, and rope swings. Join the VS team as we share our favorite summertime memories from when we were kids.
I was lucky enough to grow up in Colorado with parents who loved to fly fish. From a very young age, I tagged along on summer family trips to La Garita Ranch in Creede, Colorado. Located near the headwaters of the Rio Grande, La Garita was a paradise if you love the outdoors. Although La Garita was sold about 10 years ago, I have fond memories of fly fishing, hikes to the Wheel Geologic Area, and horseback rides to beautiful Colorado vistas.
Every summer, my parents would let me spend a month with my grandparents. My grandmother lovingly stocked the fridge with my favorite snacks, played games with me, and gave me full freedom to explore their small Iowa town by bike.
Although I relished the time with my grandmother, one of my most cherished parts of these months was golfing with my grandfather. While I enjoyed the game itself, what I loved most was being invited into a world that meant a great deal to him. My grandfather highly respected the game, and was only willing to golf with people who did the same. He’d always diligently replace divots on the green, rake the sand traps, stay on the cart path to preserve the grounds, and respect other golfers. He always managed to find the perfect balance between taking the game seriously enough to continuously improve without taking it so seriously that he didn’t relax and have fun.
Golfing with him taught me a great deal about the value of respect; both for your environment and the people around you. It taught me about the value of hard work and dedication to a craft. Most importantly, it taught me how investing in people and making them feel valuable can have lifelong impacts. The picture is him letting me drive the cart around age five. We golfed together for nearly 20 years after that, and I feel incredibly blessed to have those memories.
My grandparents had a house that sat right on the Smith River near Crescent City, CA. The house was the epitome of ‘over the river and through the woods’ as they had a 20-year lease from the US Forest Service on this very special house in the middle of the redwoods. My cousin Heidi and I would spend weeks there during the summers. We spent sun-up to sundown exploring the woods, watching the otters and chipmunks, catching crawfish and floating down the mighty Smith River in inner tubes. Meanwhile, Grandma Pearl would be cooking the next meal or baking the next batch of cookies. And Grandpa Russ would be running around with us, smoking his deliciously-smelling pipe and telling the best grandpa jokes ever. MAN, am I lucky! (in this picture, I’m the one on the right, Heidi’s on the left).
For much of my childhood, my parents and I were relatively removed from the rest of our extended family. Since both my parents worked, summer vacation or no summer vacation, I spent most of my summers as a latchkey kid. I’d hole up in the reading tower, a blanket fort spanning my entire bedroom (and a feat of engineering of which I was immensely proud) where I wrote my first stories, drew and colored, and of course, read.
I read everything I could get my hands on, from my small collection of children’s classics, to the mountain of books I’d borrow weekly from the library, to the poetry recommended by my father, to stories I found in his old college textbooks. Occasionally, I’d attend Girl Scouting events or my parents would take me on day trips to museums or to stay with family for the weekend. But for the most part, I spent my summers feeding my imagination under a mountain of linens to the pleasant backdrop of the humming attic fan.
I have two words: Pirate Ship. If you've ever been to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, you know about this legendary ride, one which gives both children and adults a great thrill with a spectacular view of the Pacific. As a kid, I would go on the Pirate Ship over and over, a big smile on my face. Sitting in different places gives a different perspective with so much to see, and the higher rows provide quite an adrenaline rush! I delighted in the way my stomach would drop. Laughter upon laughter would erupt, and then it was time to do it all over again. Good times!
Every summer my Mom, Dad, and I would visit my Grandma (Dad's mom) in northeastern Indiana. She lived in an old farmhouse on several acres that fronted the Wabash river. Some of her property was occupied by outbuildings that housed this and that, some by enormous gardens, and the rest was an expanse of grass dotted by an assortment of giant trees.
As you might imagine, Grandma needed help maintaining all of that grass and every time we came to visit, starting from when I was about 7 years old, I was lucky enough to get put on mowing duty. You would've thought that playing with the barn cats, running around the fields, eating things straight out of the garden, or collecting eggs from the chickens might have been one of my favorite memories from these visits... but no, it was mowing. Learning how to run and drive the John Deere lawn tractor gifted me hours of sweaty, exhaust-scented, grass-covered, summertime bliss.
Maybe I loved having such an important (in my mind) responsibility bestowed upon me. Maybe I loved that I was better at mowing than my cousins. (Shhhhhh....don't tell them I said that). Whichever way, it's still one of my most cherished, summertime, childhood memories.
(That's a somewhere between 13 and 15-year old Leslie with a sweet perm.)
My family and I spend every Memorial Day weekend in Clearlake, CA. This annual trip has been going on for about 40 years and started in the late 70's when our great-grandparents moved there from the Bay Area. A few years later our grandparents joined them, which was followed by my father in the late 80's. I have so many fond memories camping with family and friends, exploring for lizards and frogs, and trying to learn how to water ski, something I still haven't mastered but it's not from lack of trying. I have literally been dragged across that lake more times than I can count.
My best childhood memory is going to Lake Berryessa each summer. Our family friends had a cabin there and I would stay with them there all summer. We would be there for 6 days out of the week and then would come home to do laundry and then would head back to the lake. I did this from ages eleven to fifteen. Each morning we would pack up our food and stay out on the lake all day to ski, wakeboard and inner-tube. We had a golf cart that we would drive around the property for fun and would blast country music. What great memories I have there!
Andrea Steffes Tuttle
Growing up, my family spent a few weeks each summer in Maui, HI. We spent every day outside, running from the pool to the beach to play and snorkel. I would float in the ocean, face down watching the fish and turtles for hours until I got too far from the beach, when I would swim to shore, and run back to the pool to jump in and wash the salt water off and then do it all over again.
My favorite childhood summer memory is when I was given a bicycle, somewhere around the age of eight. We lived on a farm in Oregon, and a bicycle meant independence! I could ride to the neighborhood grocery store for a popsicle, or get to our cherry tree and hang upside-down from a branch while picking and eating fresh cherries.
There was just enough danger to make life exciting, and it was a wonderful time to be a young boy. Memories!
Baseball was a very important part of my life growing up. In fact, until I left baseball to become a Marine, I can't remember a time in my life without it. My dad had a lot to do with that. He was quite the athlete and encouraged me and my siblings to try all kinds of sports, so I did. Out of all of them though, baseball was the one that really stuck. I think one of the most important reasons it did was that special one-on-one time playing catch with him in the backyard. No matter how many times I asked him to play he always said yes, setting a very high bar for me with my kids!
My love of baseball only grew and continued to fill my summers and eventually all the seasons of the year. But no matter how many big games I experienced, my greatest memories of baseball were in the backyard pitching to my dad.
Road trips were the vacation of choice in my house when I was little. My parents would put the back seats down in our Datsun hatch back and we would stuff blankets and pillows in the back so my brother and I could lay down or play in the back. Not something they would recommend today! We would often drive to Texas to visit my grandfather. He was big, gruff man with a true west Texas accent. But when my brother and I came out he pulled out all the stops. He would grill the best steak I have ever eaten. He would also take us down to the creek to fish. It was just a pole, a line, a hook and a bobber attached. But we could stay busy for quite some time with those simple fishing supplies.
One summer he took us to one of his friends houses who owned goats. Not just a handful of goats but goats everywhere. That was the first time I had ever been that close to those odd, vertical eyes, and that loud sound that could come from such a little mouth. I was in love right away. We got to feed them, and they were quite friendly to pet. I cried when we had to leave. To this day I think I might like to own some goats!
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