While these are all signs of summer’s arrival, I give thanks for a more colorful, welcome announcement of its return. Across the yard, this year’s impatiens march along before the chicken coop. In riotous pinks and purples all mixed up with white, they splash cheer in a lavish display that makes me — well, happy. So does the tent that a local Tom and Huck Finn have set up now under a tree.
The day it went up, they invited a friend, then promptly turned the back yard into a KOA campground. Forgetting the X-box, they spent the entire time outdoors. They played basketball. They got out the lawn chairs. They started a fire, roasting marshmallows for s’mores. They sat around talking ᾿til late in the night with the stars and the breeze and the frogs as their witness.
The next morning, they made roughly 1,438 trips from the kitchen to the picnic table. I glanced up once to see the fridge moving and ordered a halt. Three young men shrugged, looking sheepish, and went back to pillaging the pantry.
It was on the third attempt over an open fire that they finally cobbled together some eggs that were edible. The picnic table, I noted, was buried beneath a landslide of plates, cups, condiments, egg cartons, some kind of meat and, of course, dirty spoons.
The yard, too, showed signs of their fun. Over here, two Frisbees. Over there, a bat and glove. To the left, one basketball, and to the right, a pack of spent firecrackers.
Yes, it’s summer now on The Three. It’s noisy here, and messy, too. The fridge empties out as the washer fills up, and those kids are dirtying spoons right and left, up and down. The silver ones they weren’t exactly born with.
Maybe that’s a blessing, growing up without privilege. To know the simple freedom of a summertime campout. To sleep ᾿neath the stars. To throw a ball with a brother. To sit late by a fire, just talking with friends. What if — perhaps — this is how privilege looks? I wish every child could know that joy.