By Ralphine Major

Summertime—-the days of June bugs, dandelions, and daisies!  The traditional summer months of June, July, and August bridge springtime with the fall.  Growing up, summers seemed to pass at a much slower pace, giving us time to savor every moment of the season.  Kids headed to neighborhood swimming pools, people worked in their vegetable gardens, and families gathered for holiday cookouts.

On the farm, adventures started early to avoid the sun’s hot rays of afternoon.  Blackberry picking usually took place around this time of the year.  To protect against chiggers (a type of bug whose bite  causes itching), we dressed from head to toe in clothing that left no skin uncovered.  The day started with a walk through the barnyard, where the dairy cows had already left after the morning milking.  I am always reminded of the year a surprise was waiting for us—a new colt!  Because it was on the 4th of July, we named him Firecracker.  Past the barnyard, we crossed the creek where the water slowed to a trickle.  Then, it was up an inclined dirt trail that was sometimes used for regular bicycle rides—though speed bikes would have been nice.  Finally, we reached the top.  We knew just the spot!  The best blackberry briars were abundant and the scenery breathtaking!  All around us were beautiful rolling hills under a blue sky.  We took a rest at our special place and unpacked a picnic lunch.  From this very high vantage point, you could see everywhere!  There was no need to worry about cell phone reception.  We were privileged to have a land line in the sixties!  Soon it was time to head back to the house with our buckets of blackberries.  The luscious fruit would make lots of tasty blackberry jelly and cobblers when the snow started flying.  As I write, mother reminds me that June 21—the first day of summer—is also our father’s birthday.  He would  have been 92!  Ralph was a dairy farmer who never lost his love of the land and animals.  Heart disease claimed his life at age 68.

Thank you to The Focus publisher and staff for an awesome evening at the book signing last week.  It was great to visit with other Focus writers and Focus readers.  Congratulations to Rosie Moore and Pete Gawda on their recent book releases!  Have a great summer everyone!

Local Authors Day book signing, Barnes & Noble, 8029 Kingston Pike, Saturday, June 30, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.