Ending of spring and coming of the summer here in southern Arkansas. I used to love this time of year.(Now to give you an idea of the area where we live and how rural it is, I didn’t realize this, at the time, when I was growing up in the 1980’s , 90’s , that our area really ran about 30 years culturally behind from everywhere else. Now with the availability of the internet , and all, and everyone pretty much having it , we are maybe only 5 years behind , but you get the idea. ) When I was a kid, we had a party line telephone way longer than anyone else. We walked where we went, or biked, or rode our horses. I had two girlfriends that lived 2 miles down the road from me one way, and two boy “friends” who lived down the road two miles the other direction, and we spent every minute of every summer together. We tore down the road screaming at the top our lungs to the river just a hop skip and a jump from any of our houses, and spent our days getting so burned, mosquito bitten and water logged, that we couldn’t wait to do it again the next day. We didn’t have cell phones for our parents to call, or to call our other friends. We stayed gone from daylight til dark, and as far as I know , don’t guess our parents worried about anybody carryin’ us off. When we needed spare spending money , we earned it by helping one another’s Grandparents , hauling hay into the back of old Chevys , drinking ice cold cokes out of the beat up cooler Uncle Cecil threw in the back. Or working for Granny Jo, standing barefooted in the garden picking green beans until our fingers were just as green as the beans themselves. Shucking corn, covering ourselves in the silk of those golden rods like some kind of Central American princesses with tangled woven necklaces, we ‘d throw ourselves up in the hay loft when we were through, and work out our plans for the next day. The boys would walk home to their house, and if we had the strength we’d go into bed, and if we didn’t we’d just sleep in the loft. You don’t know at the time that it is the magic time of your life, that gilt – dipped year that you can never get back. Or maybe you do, and you are just too afraid to speak of it. I got my first “real ” job not long after that, when I was 13. Waitressing. I met people from other places. “Real ” towns. Big towns. I heard that tone in their voice when they heard my accent. I didn’t realize at the time that it was condescension. That they thought I was just a hillbilly. A redneck child who knew no better than to think that my world was all there was. But now that I know, I am not angry. I only feel sorry that they feel that their life IS all that matters. That they will never know the feel of fresh tilled garden dirt underneath their feet. Or the joy of ice cold river water on hay-burnt , mosquito-bitten skin. I wouldn’t trade my corner of the world for theirs, or the way it was back then, for anything.