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July 10, 2019

When Nub, Doug, and I were children, July was the middle of summer vacation. Back then, we were out three whole months for summer, June, July and August, and the time seemed to stretch out forever.
Forever summer was a good thing for us, for we were outside children and gloried in our freedom those hot, sultry days. No tortuous sitting in classrooms, listening to the poor readers drone on and on, trying to get through a few paragraphs of a story. That was always the worst part of school to me, and I dreaded the read-aloud days. In summer, the only one reading aloud was me, as I read to our baby sister, Helen, and Doug, and that was just fine. Books came from the Bookmobile, our connection to the outside world in the summertime.
Summer was just full of endless possibilities to explore our surroundings. There wasn’t a barn or a shed that we left unchecked, and sometimes that got us into trouble. There was one little shed that we went in one day, but we came out a lot faster than we had slipped in. Stacked up three high were coffins, and our imaginations let us believe that at least one of them had a vampire, sleeping through the day. That shed remained off limits until it was torn down.
The big hay barn was a great place to hang out, especially after the new hay was stacked in as high as the men could reach. We were young and nimble, and thought nothing of climbing all the way to the top of the tallest stack. We never knocked the bales down, either, or we would have banned from the barn.
One day, Nub and I couldn’t find Doug. We looked and looked and called, and finally resorted to getting Mama to help. While we were scouring the weed patches, Rambler Woods, one of the men working at the shop, called out to Mama. “Miss Bunnie, Doug’s sitting on top of that hay barn!” The hay barn was very tall, especially to a kid, but there sat five year old Doug, right at the tip top. Mama nearly had a hissy fit, but she got him down and she and her peach limb convinced him not to do that again.
She didn’t have to worry about Nub or me climbing up that high. Ten feet off the ground on a limb of the crepe myrtle tree was as high as I could bear, and Nub wasn’t much better. We spent hours in that tree, with Doug up high, of course, fighting pirates and bad Indians, outlaws and Yankees. If I had a dollar for every no good varmint that we killed, I could be driving a Range Rover instead of an F-150.
The crepe myrtle was our favorite refuge, and we thought we were invincible in that tree. We thought we were safe from a mad mama sometimes, too, but she fooled us one day. Nub had done something especially offensive to her (probably threw rocks at the chickens) and she got after him. Since we were a trio, we all ran to the crepe myrtle tree with her running behind us. We scampered up into the tree...but so did she! She got Mr. Nub out of the tree and spanked him for his transgressions. Doug and I were very quiet so she wouldn’t get us, too. We were just amazed that a mama could climb a tree, even more so that it was OUR mama. It was so very impressive.
There was another Nub and chicken incident that would have gotten us punished if we’d been caught. We were throwing rocks at Mimi’s chickens one day, to get them away from where we wanted to play ball. Ol’ sureshot Nub hit one of the prize laying hens in the head and knocked her out cold. Mimi was a lot less tolerant of accidents than Mama, and we had to keep her from finding out that Nub killed her hen. While we were discussing the possibilities of removing her from the crime scene, she jumped up, squawked, and ran away. From then on, we’d just chase them away with sticks.
I could fill pages with our summer adventures, being Robin Hood and Col. John Mosby and Raphael Semmes and Davy Crockett. We enjoyed our freedom, and took full advantage of those wonderful days of summer, before air-conditioners were ever heard of in our world. A good breeze and a rocking chair on Mimi’s front porch served us well for reading our books, and Mimi would give us sweet tea to drink to keep us out of the house when she was taking her afternoon nap.
Once she woke up, the books were closed, and we had the outlaws on the run for the rest of the day. Life was grand.