Looking out on the backyard, I think about the transformation it has undergone in ten years. I remember one of my first walks across the pedestrian mall this semester after summer had officially come to a close. My English professor of whom I had had for two consecutive semesters was walking in the same direction some feet ahead, but I had not spotted him amongst the swarm of students and new-semester-frenzy. Keeping my head to the ground protects me from the blinding sun and uncomfortable eye-contact. But he managed to catch my attention, and I removed my ear bud to properly greet him.
"How was your summer?" he asked after some humorous pleasantries.
"Fine. Long... But it was nice to get away from here for awhile," I said. "--The humidity and all," I quickly added. I was unsure if it would offend him or not.
"Yeah, I decided to take on the ambitious task of building my kids a playground set," he replied. "Of course, now it's too damn hot for them to even go outside and play on it."
It was a funny little summer anecdote. A nice way to greet the new year with a familiar face. I was reminded of my own experience with a playground set. And I do not mean the flimsy, probably made from the aluminum siding of our trailer, swing-set from a box my father put up in the "front yard," which was really just the bit of space we had between our trailer and the one next to us on the right. Moving into a real house meant a new playground and my father built it from scraps and real wood. There was even a small shaded area underneath my brother and I would crawl under when the sun feeling cruel.
It was our castle, our bomb shelter, our pirate ship. When I had friends over, it was our fort where we would swap the fifth grade gossip and drink lemonade. My timid beagle, Snoopy, even attempted to slide down the slide a couple of times after we had trained our other, less-timid but still all-beagle, puppy Abbey to slide.
Both of those dogs have passed on since then, and the playground set knocked down. But the memories are still there. Glancing around today: I can hear the faint sounds of a basketball dribbling across the Georgia red clay and laughter; I hear Snoopy's hilarious howl. It all makes me wish we were younger and we had a beagle--or two--around the house again. It is too cold outside now for a playground set, and I am too old, anyway. This summer alone seems like an eternity ago in face of winter. Though I never turn away hot cocoa and a warm fireplace. The semester is over and I have Christmas with my family to enjoy now.
And I am sure, while I am away from campus, the humidity will not change and the temperature with fluctuate between somewhat winter-y weather to uncomfortably warm for the season. I hope, while it lasts, my English professor's children enjoy their playground set. Before they know it, it will be gone, too--gone just like all of those summers of my childhood. It happens in a blink of an eye, growing up, but memories can still be made that way.