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Down the Road

In the good old summer time.
By Milton M. Gross
Aug 16, 2015 - 8:12:24 AM

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It was so hot this afternoon, I spent the time napping on the sofa. When I finally awoke, I found myself thinking about summer heat, then just summer.

Now that I'm am in the fall of my life, 29.5 going on I forget what...but it may be a number well above that, I'm retired so have more time to think.

What I thought about when I awoke was what I did with all the summers that were handed down to me from God. God must have been involved, because most of those summers were fairly pleasant.

I remember my childhood summers in the heat of suburban Philadelphia. Once we had begun to come to Maine for vacation each August, I began to think about how hot it was in that Philadelphia suburb.

But I had fun in those long-gone days. I recall our train trips to Atlantic City through New Jersey to the seashore. The train trip was behind an Atlantic steam locomotive that dropped soot into the open coach windows. The seashore was pleasantly cooler, but I still managed to get badly sunburned one summer at Cape May. Boy was I sick!

Not a good memory, but I remember cutting the lawn with a push mower -- was there another kind? And taking care of Shep, our shepherd-collie mix, who loved to bite men after a mailman whacked him one day. Never chased females. Shep and I spent many summer days "down in the woods," as we called it. Where one day he and I were attacked by a rabid fox, which bit my long jeans. Those were the summers before I discovered shorts. I still wear shorts, they are so much more comfortable on hot summer days. The fox didn't scratch my skin as it did my friend it attacked a half-mile farther in the woods. The poor kid had to have shots. I didn't.

That friend wanted to become a ranger in North Carolina. Whether he did or not, I don't know. I do know my oldest daughter now lives there.

During our Maine vacations, summers were a bit cooler. I recall driving my great aunt's 1952 Plymouth here and there, like up to Baxter State Park. We drove that trip into the park on the dirt park road until we reached Katahdin Stream Campground and climbed the big mountain the next day. A ranger told me several years ago, the park had never had a dirt perimeter road. Either my memory got sideswiped by a trotting moose or she was too young to remember.

I also drove us to Reid State Park, to the lake and a state park along Route 3 between Belfast and Augusta. (I finally learned to pronounce it "Auguster.")

The beach at the park in Belfast, which is nice for viewing but much too cold for swimming even in summer. Milt Gross photo.

Later, during one summer, my first wife, Dorothy, and I moved to Maine to live -- summer and those other seasons that I'm not writing about here. In summers, I recall bicycling all over the country around South Paris with my oldest daughter. I remember my youngest daughter falling off her bike and skinning her knee. (Now that youngest daughter operates a day-care center, where I have no idea how many skinned knees there are per week.)

I recall the summer we loaded all six bikes into the big...as in BIG...Ford wagon and drove to just south of Route 1, where we planned to bike down to Reid State Park. We got all the bikes off the car, all the family onto their bikes, and, as I started ahead -- fearless leader -- my bike chain snapped. So I drove down to the park and meeting them.

I remember the mountains we climbed, most of the highest one in Maine, and mostly in summer. Which is how I got dragged into joining the Maine Appalachian Trail Club. Not because I fell in love with it, but because a friend slipped along a muddy side trail, didn't cuss awhile because he was church-going, and asked me, "Who takes care of these trails?"

That question got answered over the years since about 1970, when I joined the Maine Appalachian Trail Club. It was a lot of other club members that did much volunteer work on the AT, while I did a little...I still do a little by steering groups into the proper shelters along the AT in Maine. I do that from my study by Mr. iMac.

I remember while teaching school that we had so little money, we fed the kids a lot of blueberries that grew in the field next to our house. In summer, I worked in a Belfast supermarket and bringing home the leftover fruit and veggies to feed the kids. We could do that then. Not now, those fresh supermarket fruits and veggies might poison somebody. I don't eat too many fruits or veggies now, because I'm dealing with a blood clot in a leg that didn't kill me. (Green veggies contain Vitamin K, that apparently thickens the blood, allowing blood clots to form.)

I remember dragging the kids and good wife down to Camden Hills State Park, where we hiked -- and where I slipped and nearly broke something, don't recall what, on the shortest trail in the park. (Also one of the steepest.)

I remember raising a garden. That was a good summertime activity. I got to watch the weeds grow and the corn disappear when the raccoons nibbled on it. But we got some great veggies too, a real summertime treat.

For now, it's still warm outside -- and in -- so it's time to stop writing about summer, and get out and enjoy

the good old summertime.


Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at lesstraveledway@roadrunner.com.

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2015


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