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Far Away Summer

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When we were growing up, we dug and filled a pond in the woods behind our house, and in the summertime, after lunch on those hot, sticky Southern days, we would pull on our bathing suits and run barefooted through clumps of poison ivy and moss and ferns and touch-me-nots until we threw ourselves off the dry bank into the brown water of the pond—and sometimes, if we were still enough, we could watch the shiny black water beetles scuttle across the surface, stitching the water together, and then we would move again and splash the water up toward the sky and see how the droplets snatched fragments of the afternoon sunlight that trickled down through the trees—after our fingers and toes were soft and pruney, we would climb out and walk back to the house, letting the breeze dry our wet bodies—then we would change out of our bathing suits and into our play clothes and leap off the back porch railing into the cargo net our grandparents had suspended between the porch and two trees, and we would pretend that we were jumping out of airplanes until it got dark and the lightning bugs came out and the frogs started to hum, and Mama gave us glass jars, which we used to catch lightning bugs until our sweaty palms smelled sweet like their secretion, and then we would go inside and eat dinner—after dinner, we would sit on the back porch in the rocking chairs with the lamp on the table, breathing in the sweet scent of pine trees and flowers and grass all mixed with the smell of a crisp Appalachian chill—and Mama and Daddy would play bluegrass and folk songs on the guitar and mandolin and we would sing songs about Darcy Farrow and picking apples and coats of many colors—and I miss those days, and I miss the pond and the house and the music, and sometimes I forget that I’m grown up and that the pond dried up years ago and that my family sold the house, and I think I can go back there to those long summer days when we were growing up, but then I remember, and I have nothing but memories to take me home.

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