Summer ends and fall begins, signaling a change in our routines and an end to the freedom of summer.
When we were children, summer meant that at some point, we would spend time with our cousins. Besides my brothers, my cousins were my first friends, and we all looked forward to being together.
We saw our cousins who lived nearby frequently during the summer. Most of our play was outdoors. Our mothers insisted that we go “run around outside,” and that was always okay with us.
We had big shady yards for wiffleball, croquet, and tag. We had lofts in our barns for straw-fort-building, and the various family farms offered countless secret places for hide-and-go-seek. We loved to play survival scenarios, pretending to hunt and forage for our food, building lean-to branch cabins for shelter. Somehow we avoided the poison ivy that I’m sure lurked in the shade.
Our up north cousins we saw less frequently, but our closeness today was nurtured by overnight stays and time together at our grandparents’ home and the family cabin.
My cousin Jennifer and I wrote plays–mostly about pioneers and Pilgrims–and tried to entice our brothers to practice and perform them. (In hindsight, I think Jenn and I had watched too many Shirley Temple movies.) Our scripts were detailed, and the rehearsals proved frustrating–mostly for the persnickety-sister- directors–and I don’t think one of creations ever made it to the stage.
We then moved our skills to crime solving. We used magnifying glasses and flour for footprints, trying to figure out what was getting into Grandma’s chickens or who had been walking in the garden. We were confident, persistent sleuths.
I loved my cousins in childhood, but I love them even more in adulthood. I didn’t think that was possible. And although our time together is less frequent, it is definitely memorable.
It’s a Fine Life