Just before most of us turn our clocks back, and we are well into fall, I’d like to share two subscribers’ results from the exercise I proposed in “Put Summer on the Page,” July 8, 2004. In that article, I excerpted words from Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine and discussed a writing strategy that facilitates collecting vivid memories of summer by becoming a ‘symphony of life’ conductor and telling the people and things from your childhood to behave the way you remember them behaving in summer. This week, following the two subscriber passages I’m reprinting, I discuss what each writer might choose to do in developing her writing into a more formal piece.
Carole Sabo’s summer exercise:
Brother, pinch me in my sleeping bag as we stare up through the nylon tent and see zillions of stars in a midnight sky. In Yosemite, the stars always look closer. Daddy, put my hot dog on the stick I searched the campground for and whittled to a sharp point. Mommy, roast marshmallows golden brown over the open campfire, and let me taste them squished between two graham crackers and four squares of Hershey chocolate. Tell me to be sure and get into shower lines early and not to walk barefoot to the river. Cousin, let’s walk through the pine needles and jump into the snow cold river and yell “Oh God-d-d-d-d!” when our sun warmed bodies hit the water. Daddy, blow up the rafts we bought at Walgreen’s Drug Store and carry them on our shoulders as we walk over steaming hot sand. Show me how to play poker at night as we sit at a picnic table and drink hot chocolate. And don’t let me win. Brother, walk with me through the quiet, darkened campground to the restrooms because I drank too many sodas and I can’t hold it any longer.
Sunshine wakes me up. The tent is hot and I hear my mother and father speaking in low tones outside. I reach over and take a sip of warm orange soda then pull on my shorts and t-shirt. Stephen is still asleep in the sleeping bag next to me. I poke him in the arm and he groans, “Leave me alone!” Stephen has never been a morning person. I zip open the tent flap and emerge into sun shining through the pine trees. I smell fresh roasted coffee brewing and bacon and eggs frying. Mom and Dad are sitting at the picnic table eating and reading the newspaper. They hear me come out of the tent and turn around and greet me.
“Awake at last,” my dad says, raising an eyebrow. He goes back to reading the newspaper.
“Hi honey,” my mom whispers. “Come over and give me a hug.”
My mom’s hug is tight. She kisses me on the cheek.
“Eggs? Bacon?” she asks me.
“Donuts,” I reply.
She ruffles through a box under the table and comes up with Dolly Madison powered donuts.
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