Mid-July: Hot, steamy, buggy, oppressive!
It's a time I’m not fond of; in fact, I don’t like it at all. But many, many years ago, when I was a child spending summers with my grandparents, mid-summer was more joyful than a carousel! The most memorable time was just after dinner when the sun had gone down, an hour or so before dark. One evening, in particular, stands out.
My Aunt Betty and I were about ten years old. After we’d finished our dinner, we headed outside to get in the final remnants of our day’s play before dark. Mom shrieked as the screen door slammed behind us. “Girls! Must you always slam that door?” We looked at each other and giggled.
A warm wind, laden with scents of fried chicken and okra, accompanied us as we made our way to the front yard. We’d no sooner gotten there and were deciding what to do with the rest of the evening, when we saw a man walking up the dirt road toward us. As he came closer, we saw that it was my Uncle Buck, Betty’s big brother. He was carrying a large bag. We were curious.
“Whatcha’ got?” Betty said.
“Come on inside and see,” Buck answered, grinning like a Cheshire cat.
Back around the house we went – following closely behind Uncle Buck – certain there was something wonderful in the bag just for us!
Once inside, Buck hugged Mom, then placed the bag on the table and began taking out its contents. Betty and I squealed with delight when we saw that it was ice cream in little cardboard cups with wooden spoons attached to the sides. In those days, in a remote coal camp, ice cream was a rare luxury!
After removing the cardboard lids, Buck handed each of us a cup of the creamy vanilla treat and, with a quick “thank you” and a big smile, we hurried outside, letting the door slam behind us once again.
Betty ran ahead of me, enjoying her ice cream, but I managed to take only two bites of mine before disaster struck! Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a black streak, felt a jab at my foot and then saw the streak disappear under the house! Screaming wildly, I threw my ice cream up in the air and began crying. Mom and Pop came running to my side. Examining my ankle and finding only a couple of small red spots, Pop deduced that it had been a black snake, and harmless.
Mom cleaned the wound with alcohol and covered it with a band-aid. But I kept crying hysterically. When she assured me that my ankle was fine and asked why I was still upset, I whined, “I dropped my ice cream!”
Ah, sweet memories of childhood!