“A ‘False’ Start to Summer,” column for May 17, 2016

Summer is still weeks away, but it started early for me with three big surprises. We were just waking up when my husband looked outside and froze.

“Chicks!” he whispered.

It was our first quail hatch of the year. I wish you could’ve seen them. There were six, each about the size of my thumb, pecking at seeds fallen from the feeder, while their parents fussed and clucked and crowed.

Apparently, like their human counterparts, quail chicks are born to teach their parents that control is a flat-out illusion.

The second surprise came that afternoon, when my husband checked the pool temperature.

“It’s 85,” he grinned.

He knows 85 is my limit. One degree less, I’ll wait. I’ve had bad experiences with cold water. Seconds later, we were in the pool, floating like two people with nothing better to do.

Usually, when we float, we just float. But sometimes we tell stories.

He told me one from when he was a boy, about the day he and his buddies jumped into a public pool, dove to the bottom and came nose to nose with a shark. Some fool had put it in there overnight.

It was dead, but they didn’t know it.

The story was not about the shark, really, but about the every-boy-for-himself exodus out of the pool, which had to be closed for major cleaning, and not just to get rid of the shark.

I’d heard that story before (maybe you have, too) but a good story is worth hearing again.

One good story calls for another, so I told him about the summer I was 12. I was visiting my dad on his parents’ farm in the North Carolina mountains. Weary of answering my questions, my dad signed me up for swimming lessons. I told him I could swim, but he said a little practice wouldn’t hurt.

Luckily, I’d packed a swimsuit, a hand-me-down from a cousin. It was a bit roomy (I was skinny then.) But the most interesting feature was the bust. Covering a part of my anatomy that existed mostly in my dreams, it was stuffed with what, for obvious reasons, were called “falsies.”

They were sewn in place, big as melons and not removable. Not that I tried to remove them. I liked how they made me look: Like someone I was not.

I didn’t let my dad see the suit. I changed in the dressing room after he dropped me off. Lessons began at 8 a.m. The water wasn’t cold. It was icy.

The instructors were college kids who stood fully clothed on shore holding whistles. When the whistles blew, we were to jump waistdeep into the lake, then bob up and down.

Imagine my surprise when I surfaced, gasping for breath, to discover that the “falsies” had soaked up half the lake, dragging the top of the suit down to my middle.

This called for quick action. I sank to my neck, grabbed the falsies, squeezed them nearly dry, then rose and released them above water. It worked.

The only problem was having to repeat that action each time the whistle blew. I was good at it. It would forever redefine for me the term “breast stroke.”

My husband liked that story. Men often seem to. I tell it only to a select, discerning audience.

The third surprise came that evening as we sat on the patio watching what I can only describe as the spectacle of a full-on summer sunset. Southwest sunsets are often quite the show, but they differ season to season. Forget the calendar. This one sang of summer. Turquoise, gold and neon pink. The rustle of palm trees. A warm breeze breathing down my neck. Heaven.

This will be our best summer, yours and mine. Past is past. Future is future. Now is now. It’s all we have. Lord willing, I intend to make the best of it.

I’ll watch those quail chicks grow up. Hope for visits from our own chicks. Soak up sunsets with my husband. And I will have no need whatsoever for falsies or any other pretensions.

Mostly, I’ll just try to stay afloat. That’s my plan. What’s yours?


  1. Hi Sharon,
    Summers are such a wonderful time for children and adults alike; thanks for reminding us to stop and enjoy the memories of the past, the good times of the present and those special adventures that are sure to arrive. You make me smile every time I read your column. Thanks

  2. Read the sweet column which was not less sweeter than before . It is a good explanation how we cannot forget what happened many years ago ,but it is always good to remember those days .And summer is best season and I would be thinking to put away summer clothes in October .And my husband says why you did not put away when it was summer .I wear all year some of winter clothes as there is no summer in US actually in the area I live .Do not about others but I grew up in a hot country where there is summer at least 10 months , Thank you .Loved it as always .

  3. Jeanne Holmquist says

    That is the lonnnngest doggone “yarn” I have ever heard!

    Almost sounds like a Nebraska N ote!

    I did laffa bit, but then, it was a serious laff! Glad you asked for MY plan!

    To get myself well, again, and pretend that I am much younger and agreeing to have more house-guests even after I swore I would NOT EVER again!

    Good to hear, my friend! I am missing ye!

    Love ya, Jeanne

  4. Susan Kovarick says

    Stay afloat sounds good to me. TY

  5. I’m supposed to be getting papers ready for homeschool review time. Instead, I’m laughing so hard that my kids are crowding around the computer screen. Thank you.

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