Who Made the Summer

Now that’s how we’re supposed to remember summer, right? Drinking from the hose, limbs all exposed to the sun. A big, tacky, inflatable pool wrecking the grass underneath. We do our best to give our kids the kind of summers that we hope we can keep remembering. The kind of summer in that picture down there. They try to legislate it all away, but they have no power against the family.

“Papa, can I have a drink?”
“Of course you can, sweetie.”

In 1978 the water from the hose tasted like metal, and it didn’t scare anybody. Now it tastes like water, but he’s told that there’s something dangerous in the hose – don’t give it to your children. Lead, they say. We’ve been 35 years filtering and cleaning and protecting and irradiating the water for you, so now it isn’t safe because nobody thought about the hose.

“One day, someone will tell you that you can’t. Someone will always tell you that you can’t.”

“Will he be right?”

“In a way – in his way he will think he is right. In his way he will know he is right and he’ll have numbers and articles and so-called facts to make sure he keeps knowing how right he is. But his way is only really there for making you scared of something, and you can be as sure as the grass going brown that if he has children, they drink from the hose when he is out here telling you not to.”

“What does he think is wrong with the water?”

“That it is full of things that you can’t handle without getting sick, and that he can make those things disappear by making you feel lousy about them. He thinks this because he doesn’t know that you come from the same place as the water, or that you both come from the same place as the summer.”

“And my baby brother, too. Where’s that place, Papa?”

“That’s a tough one to answer, sweetie. I only know it’s all the same, and that even if I never know it all the way, I come closest when I’m closest to your Ma.”

In 1978, Mother clipped a shirt to the line and didn’t hear the conversation, because in 1978 the conversation didn’t happen. She just held open the patio door, and put the boy out there to find the summer in the business end of a garden hose.


“Dad, can I have a lemonade stand?”

“Of course you can, bud.”

In 2020 the parents pretend to be rebelling when they let their kids drink from the hose, after making them wear helmets to ride their bigwheels. The man with the numbers and articles and so-called facts makes daily trips to the podium, describing how his scientists have dropped the hose altogether, and are now scraping samples directly from the linings of the children. The magic data is in there, he thinks, and is right, but a microscope has no lens for miracles.

“One day, someone will tell you that you can’t. Someone will always tell you that you can’t.”

“He can’t be right.”

“He isn’t, and he may even stop believing he is, but that won’t stop him from pretending. People will also stop believing him, but will go on pretending.”

“Why will they pretend if they don’t believe?”

“Because some kind of lie always takes the place of faith, once you’ve let it go.”

“What does he think is wrong with my lemonade stand?”

“It’s not the stand, really. He thinks that you’re dirty, and that the people who come to buy your lemonade are dirty, and that if he can make you scared of each other, you’ll learn to stay apart. He thinks his job is easiest when the people stay apart. He thinks this because he doesn’t know that you come from the same place as the people, and that you both come from the same place as the dirt.”

“And my big sister, of course. Where is that place, dad?”

“That’s a tough one to answer, bud. I only know it’s all the same, and that even if I never know it all the way, I come closest when I’m closest to your Ma.”

In 2020 Mom put a bottle of sanitizer on the table and chalked a six-foot buffer zone on the street. She didn’t hear the conversation because she knows it by heart. She just taped down the tablecloth and seeded the tip jar with a few dollars of her own, and stood back to let the kids find summer in the business end of a lemonade stand.

2 thoughts on “Who Made the Summer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s