It was a hot afternoon and I was headed out to a shady spot in the backyard with my ice tea and a new Stephen King novel. A bit of a breeze was teasing the wind chimes and they seemed to be tinkling the same tune as the ice cubes in my glass. Summer music for a sunny afternoon.
A different type of summer music was playing on the other side of the fence as a group of small children was let loose to attack the freshly filled wading pool.
There were shouts and boasts from the boys and giggles and squeals from the little girls and the occasional scream with a pitch high enough to break a pane of glass.
The moms were close by and reciting from a script that was written generations ago: “You boys be careful of the little kids.” “Stop throwing water on your sister.” “Either stay in or get out, you are bringing grass and dirt into the pool.”
As far as the kids were concerned, those words were carried away on that soft summer breeze and they never heard a thing. They had discovered a plastic backyard oasis on a hot afternoon and they were acting no different than any other feral children discovering a watering hole in the desert.
No doubt dad could have negotiated a loan, brought in contractors and back hoes and put in an in-ground pool with concrete aprons and a diving board, but I doubt if those kids would have any more fun than they were having that afternoon.
My mind wandered back about 20 years to that same backyard on another July afternoon. My eight-year-old son and his friend were in the same type of plastic pool, with a sprinkler spinning and splashing them with ice cold water.
I headed to my comfortable hammock with a book and a glass of beer and got everything positioned just right. As I laid back, one of the ropes, the victim of exposure to many sunny summer days, broke and I crashed to the ground.
I landed on a tree root and knocked the wind out of myself.
Shocked and in pain, unable to breathe and covered with beer, I rolled on to my side to try catch my breath. It was then I saw two eight-year-old boys, looking at me, on their knees laughing uncontrollably and pointing,
Later, sore but dry, I asked my son what they would have done if I had been really hurt. He said, “After we quit laughing we would have called someone.” All these years later, my son will tell you one of his fondest summer memories was the day dad fell out of the hammock.
Take a minute to remember running through the sprinkler, splashing in and out of a backyard pool or shivering under a towel while sucking on a grape Popsicle. It will cool you off.
At least that’s what McGregor says.