We planted a nectarine tree about five years ago for the birds and the bugs to enjoy, and they did enjoy it immensely this past summer, as evidenced by all the misshapen, half-eaten little fruits lying on the ground. Same with the apple tree, which we didn't plant because it came with our 80+ year old house. The apple tree may be close to that in age! One project on my "definite" list is to have the apple tree pruned back into shape.
Since I am not a fan of putting chemicals in my yard, and I am probably too lazy to do what the organic fruit growers do, the birds and bugs will enjoy those trees for years to come. The squirrels love the apple tree, but I've never seen them show any interest in nectarines.
September is a time for going through the garden and trying not to get upset at the mistakes of the previous spring and summer, but to keep them all in mind to fix next year. The grapes were poor this year. My fault for not pruning them earlier. But again, they are keeping the birds happy!
The red twig dogwood must be the ugliest autumn shrub; the leaves shrivel to a disgusting color and hang there, refusing to fall. But they redeem themselves in the winter when the stems turn a brilliant red that glow in the sun against the snow. Beautiful!
It's even a little hard to look at your successes, because they were so gorgeous just a month ago and now also look pretty sad. Some things still look pretty good. The sedum is especially pretty this year. The morning glories just don't want to quit. They reseed themselves each year, and this year they just exploded all over the yard.
This must have been a good year for the honeybees. I saw quite a few, and in past years it seemed like they had all but disappeared. In fact it reminded me of one more thing from childhood! Remember going barefoot and stepping on a bee? There were so many on the clover growing in the lawn, that we had to be careful not to get stung. I don't remember having to do that for many years!
Reading comments from Friday's post has got me thinking. Is it true that everyone idealizes their own childhood? The sixties are iconic, but every generation has fond memories of growing up. I won't even address the unhappy memories that I'm sure everyone has to one degree or another. One thing at a time!
Summer living in the sixties: I think of freedom. We were left to our own devices quite often. A positive outcome of this is that it inspired creativity. We were invited to make up our own games and pastimes since no one was buying us xboxes or ipods! I don't know if there were less bad people in the world then or if bad things just were not publicized like they are today, but parents did not mind sending you off up the street on your bike to see who was home. We wandered the neighborhood for what seemed like all day doing whatever struck our fancy. Was my sense of time distorted back then? Maybe it was only a half hour or so, but I don't think so.
Here are some things that occupied our time:
Oooh this was one of the really fun things. It was also something we were not allowed to do, which of course is why it was fun! We lived in a newish housing development and this was the sixties, so they were clearing land like crazy for more new housing developments. We took endless pleasure in exploring the half-finished houses after the construction guys went home for the day. The scariest thing was if you had to walk across a plank to get to the front door or if the stairs to the second floor were half finished, we would dare each other to try to get to the upstairs. When I think of this, I can still smell wet concrete, which was everywhere!
Another thing that occupied endless time was The Creek. (Or if you lived in western Pennsylvania you called it the Crick.) A small stream ran right through our neighborhood. The developer neglected to determine what the long term results of this would be. (My girlfriend's basement flooded every time it rained.) What he did was carve this huge culvert underneath the neighborhood for the stream to flow through. The culvert started behind my girlfriend's house, ran under the street and came out behind some houses a couple of blocks up on the other side of the street. This culvert was like a tunnel which took a sharp right turn when it crossed under the street. So, if you got up the nerve to walk all the way through it, you were in the pitch dark until you made that turn about halfway through. Then you could see some light at the end of the tunnel! We scared ourselves silly thinking of what we would be running into on the journey through. There was really only a trickle of water running if there had been no rain, so you could keep to the side and stay dry, but we pictured snakes, salamanders, spiders, the bogeyman, bats, you name it. I will have to admit right now I don't think I ever went all the way through. No one really did except maybe some of the boys. Show offs!
So after we got tired of daring each other to traverse the tunnel, we would walk up the street (above ground!) and pick up the stream where it entered the culvert. This was the real fun. We would follow the creek behind the houses and into the woods where we would set off to find the "end" of the creek. Some of it was rough going because the woods were really overgrown. But alas, another failure, we never reached the end. We had hours and hours of fun trying though. I really do think this little pastime lasted for years. I moved away when I was fourteen, and I'm sure we moved on to other endeavors a while before that, but I know there were at least two or three summers that you could hear on a daily basis, when it was hot and we were bored and lazy, "Wanna follow the crick?" That cool water sure felt good on your bare feet!
So these are a few things that parents today would probably not feel comfortable letting their kids do. But here's the thing: Our parents had no idea we were doing these things!
Do you have summer memories from days gone by? Share them here!
I've been thinking about what it was like being a kid in the early sixties. Some may say life is better for kids now, while others say a sixties kid had it made. It was a lot easier to stay below the adults' radar, for one thing, because parents were a lot less preoccupied with their children in those days. As long as you didn't call attention to yourself, you were left to your own devices!
My memories seem to be concentrated around summer vacation. We played all day, and who did we play with? Well, the kids in the neighborhood of course! There weren't many other options. No one was arranging playdates or taking you to soccer practice. No one was saying you needed dance or karate lessons. You played with who knocked on the door. Pressing their faces against the screen (all the doors had screens-no air conditioning in those days) they'd say, "You wanna come out?" and off you'd go.
The rules were: You had to be home for dinner (and yeah we ate at the dinner table), you had to come in after dinner when it got dark, and you weren't allowed to whine to your mom about being bored. Other than doing unto others, going to school, and doing your homework, that was about it. Things were pretty predictable around the neighborhood. The dads were at work all day and the moms were in the house but you hardly ever saw them. I don't remember playing inside my friends' houses more than a couple of times! Of course one friend had 3 sisters and a brother and one had five brothers. I'm sure their respective moms were only too happy to send them outside to play. I had (have!) a brother, one friend had a sister, and another friend had a brother who was much older than her (a teenager, someone from a different planet!). We were only too happy to play outside.
So, were kids better off then or now? Maybe it's impossible to say. I'm going to be exploring the subject more in future posts. I think I have just scratched the surface so far... What do you think?
Gorgeous idea for Halloween or just as an autumn display! This could even last til Thanksgiving. Use faux pumpkins, and you will have it for next year too. Check out Country Living magazine for how to!