Last week we took a few days off from work for a mini stay-cation. The temperatures rose to the mid-90s. The air was hot and thick. The days were bright, sunny and long. We had no agenda or schedule to follow. Each day we woke up and decided what, if anything, we were going to do. We were spontaneous, on the go, productive — cleaned out the basement, the garage, did yard work — and sometimes we were just lazy. We went with the flow.
It reminded me of the long summer days of childhood when hours stretched into one another and we squeezed as much as we could into each day. My brother and I spent our time bike riding, playing wiffle ball with our friends, chasing after the ice cream truck as it passed by our house, reading comic books, and on one day discovering a new archery set in our basement.
It appeared without explanation. We didn’t care how it ended up there, only that it did. There was a real bow, a bunch of arrows and a huge target. We set it up in our backyard, ran to the other side, pulled back the bow and let the arrow fly. I don’t know how often we hit the target or how long we even used it before we got tired of aiming at the big circle in the center. Eventually, we decided to aim for a spot on a tree trunk or the window of our tree house.
We pretended we were on the hunt, we walked through our backyard with bow in hand and took turns. We never shot at any animals, though. When we got bored with that, we decided to see how far we could shoot the arrows. My brother let the tip of the arrow rest on his left index finger as he pulled the bow back as far as he could with his right hand. He closed one eye and lifted the bow up to the sky to generate the greatest height and distance. He took in a deep breath then let the arrow go … swoosh … it went up, higher and higher and further away.
We waited. We watched. But it never came down.
We stared at each other at a loss for words. We couldn’t imagine how far the arrow could have gone! Or rather, we could only imagine where the arrow might have ended up or how far it flew. And we let our imaginations go wherever they would take us, because when we ran up the grassy hill in our back yard to where we thought the arrow should have landed, it wasn’t there. We looked at the trees above but it wasn’t up in the branches. Nope, we hadn’t just missed it — it never came down. We made up stories about the far-away person that would come across it, we put the archery set away and eventually forgot about the arrow that never came down.
The long hot days of summer gave way to back to school shopping and cooler nights, warmer clothes, darker mornings and the busyness of school, homework, basketball practice or volleyball games. Soon it was Thanksgiving, then Christmas break and New Year’s. Winter came and covered our yard with a thick downey blanket of snow and that once grassy hill became our private sledding hill.
We bundled up in puffy coats, knitted hats, scarves and gloves and trudged up the hill to ride down on our plastic sleds. We ran up and sledded down, over and over again not wanting to stop even though our noses ran and I couldn’t feel my fingers. But on one trip up the hill, the wind picked up. My brother was taking his last ride. He pushed off on his sled, there was a gust of wind and … swoosh … the arrow landed on his lap.
We were stunned! We cheered and laughed. Of course, there was only one explanation for how this! My brother obviously shot the arrow so high in the summer that if must have reached it’s peak sometime around October and it finally landed right on his lap in January.
At least that’s the theory we went with for a while. Of course, we eventually accepted reality … it probably got stuck in the lush tree branches of summer and the bare limbs dancing in the winter wind finally released it.
Today, the temperatures have dropped – it’s cool and rainy. The sun is hiding behind a thick layer of clouds. We’re back to work and back to reality. But it was nice to have that break and be reminded of what the long hazy days of summer are all about!