I remember a summer that seemed to never end. A summer of long, hot, breezy, bug-filled days that seemed to go on forever.
For the kids that lived on our chip-sealed road, it began on the last day of school. The kids were as young as seven or eight or as old as eleven or twelve.
On the last day of school, he said good-bye to everyone of us at each scheduled stop with a tip of his well-worn baseball cap worn at a jaunty angle. We, in turn, wished him a great summer on the farm and a "See you in September if not before!" shout as we dropped and ran from the bus. There were a few "See ya later alligator's" too.
That summer was notable because it was the summer of the longest running game of Scrub in our lives. As soon as we changed from our school clothes into our play clothes, we were out the door and into Les' cow pasture. The sound of doors slamming and kids yelling for positions could be heard up and down the road. It took a little arguing before positions were firmed up but no fisticuffs were needed to settle the roster. After that first day, the ball games would start around mid-day, break for supper, then continue until we really, truly, couldn't see the ball in the dark.
Scrub is a simple ball game. All you need is a bat, a couple of balls, wood or rocks for the bases, and at least seven players but we had been known to play with less. Ball gloves weren't really necessary but did make catching the ball less painful. Usually there were two or three old, beat-up, right-handed adult leather ones, a child's plastic one and one for the left hand which my sister Melody used whenever she played. The catcher always got one for bodily protection.
The pitchers would either stand on the mound or move a little closer to home plate depending on their pitching skills. None of us were on our way to the pros so a move closer would guarantee a hit. There were no walks even after four wild pitches. The batter stayed at bat until there was a hit or until we got tired of waiting for one. Then, we'd move the batter to the outfield and all move up one position. When there was a hit, we'd all make a frenzied effort to catch the ball mid-air and, if we did, that kid would change places with the batter. If we missed and the batter got on base, we'd all move up a position.
We braved the hot sun, the black flies, the mosquitoes, the cow patties and each other to keep the game going that summer. It was as though we were under a spell. How else to explain the focused mindset running like a fever through us? Did we know deep down in our bellies some of us would think of this as a game for "little" kids next year? Were we trying to hold on tight to our passing childhood? Maybe we knew the innocence of our youth was coming to an end and couldn't bear to open the scary door of adulthood.
All I know is I remember that summer like it was yesterday. I can feel the sun, smell the pasture and hear our parents calling in the darkness to come home.