There’s a quality to youthful American summers that sets those childhoods apart. I’ve sped far enough forward now from that time that my memories have condensed into a series of vivid, if fractured, images: my parents parked on their canvas beach chairs (Dad slack-jawed in a heat-induced nap); crabs strewn like the bodies of a defeated army across a long brown-papered table; the sea of Fourth of July patchwork quilts; fireworks, post-explosion, dripping color through the night; heat throbbing on the courts at tennis camp; melting popsicles; tangled, sunburned limbs; and the cool, chemical blue waters of the country club pool.
I used to drift on my raft in the late afternoon, recovering from the heat and activity of the day. In my semi-conscious state, the chatter of mothers and squeals of younger children receded, lapping up again on the edge of my awareness only with the occasional canon-ball splash. When I opened my eyes, my attention was absorbed by the sky. It was vast but immediate, dwarfing the little affairs of the earth as it enveloped me in its embrace. As I drifted, all the emotions and impressions of the day dissolved into the simplicity of the lethargic clouds and fixed, cerulean blue.