Summer words are transportative, taking us to that place we remember from yesterday. Maybe yesterday last year. Maybe yesterday when we were eight.
The word sprinkler can take me to my front yard on Brookside Terrace, neighbor kids running through the oscillating water for hours–until everyone was called in for supper. As in, called from the front porch by mothers who knew how to gather children from blocks away. Their only device was a certain cupping of the hands around their mouths, directing their voices to where they knew their children to be. We would break immediately, knowing that the sprinkler would be on again after the last dish was dried.
And the word flip-flop. The word sandal is all season, but flip-flop is all summer. Memorial Day used to be a big deal. Shoes came off that day. Shoes can feel religious, covering the whole foot, just a little stiff. Flip-flops don’t exactly meet the rules for a shoe, but rules get broken in the summer. Back in the day, when shoes were required to go anywhere, we had a window between Memorial Day and Labor Day where we lived by summer rules. A little bit barefoot, a little bit shoe. When shoes were required, flip-flops counted.
We are officially at the long-awaited start of summer—and all the words that go with it. Days of popsicles, watermelon, beaches, hammocks, sand, and sparklers. And lightning bugs. Although, sadly, we don’t have those on the west coast, just the thought of them brings me back to the front lawn on Brookside Terrace. Clark, NJ. Ah, the power of a summer word.