Grit Blogs > The Texas Pioneer Woman

A Country Childhood Summer

“Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”  – Henry James

The Texas Pioneer WomanSummer vacation has finally started. The best time of the year for me has always been summertime. To me summertime holds promise of endless days as the sun rises at 6 in the morning and almost sets around 9 in the evening. As a kid, even as an adult now, I love being outdoors and spending most of my time outside. Sometimes I think that is the main reason I become a teacher, so that I could still have a summer vacation.

I remember being a kid in Neches, Texas back in the late 70s and early 80s and spending all day outdoors playing with my two sisters and brother. We lived way out in the country and had no other children to play with, but each other. Once in a while our cousins would come and spend the day with us. That was a real treat!

I was raised by a divorced mom. She sewed all of our clothing, tended a garden, and raised rabbits for meat. She did not own a car, but somehow managed to go to a local college to get a degree and made sure we had a ride to church twice on Sundays and on Wednesday evenings. My dad also helped out by coming over every Saturday to take us to the grocery store and to the laundromat to wash our clothes.

Back then we lived in a small house on 100 acres. The house had no running water, but we did have an old well that was three feet round. We had to use a metal bucket tied to a rope and pulley system to pull up water for drinking, washing dishes, and bathing. We did not have air conditioning; we cooled the house down by setting box fans in an open window.

As a kid I knew we were poor, but that did not stop us from enjoying our childhood in the summer. We spent days sharing one bike; us four kids took turns riding that bike around the house. We also played in the dirt making mud pies and building roads for our toy cars. We picked blackberries to eat fresh off the vine or to use to make blackberry cobbler. Of course, we had chores to do as well. We helped our mom tend the garden, feed the animals, bring in the water, and wash dishes.

In the evenings we would chase fireflies and just enjoy sitting and watching the sun set beyond the tops of the trees. Even after going to bed, my older sister and I would stay up talking way into the night as the window box fan blew cooled air across the bed we shared.

I have 10 weeks of summer off this year. I have chores to do around the farm. I have a garden and farm animals to tend to, canning and jam making to do, blackberries to pick, fences that need mending, and a cabin that needs building. But I promise to make time to sit and watch the sun set beyond the tops of the trees around a camp fire, open a bottle of wine and stay up talking way into the night.

I hope you have a wonderful summer and make time to reminiscence your childhood, create new memories and enjoy today!

sunset - iStock/ehrlif