I think my love of summertime was ingrained in me from a free spirited childhood growing up in rural Ohio. My brother and I spent our days with our cousins and best friends exploring our small town's woods and rivers. My absolute favorite thing to do was river walking. We'd walk down the dirt road of our best friends' farm to the river. The six of us were allowed to go to the river alone, so long as we took Cindy with us. She was the "adult" of the group, our friends' black lab mix who had even lazier days than us, supervising all of our activities. Those hot summer days are my fondest memories. In college, and even after, I would frequently take our yellow lab, Jessie, river walking with me. Just the two of us. She loved it as much as I did and I swear she knew what it meant to me.
Flash forward to my adult days. My favorite vacations have been those taken with my parents, brother, husband, and the dogs, tubing and wakeboarding on Lake Erie. Or camping and boating in the Allegheny mountains. It brings back all of those blissful childhood memories of being lost in the woods exploring. Boating around the mountains with no calendar or schedule. There is no more freeing feeling than cruising on a boat out in open water.
How is it that summer is so fleeting now, but seemed to last for ages as a child? The Fourth of July has become my favorite holiday. It's surrounded by all of these simple summer memories with no expectations. We celebrate freedom, a gift too often taken for granted; and I remember the blissful freedom of my innocent childhood, something I'm extremely grateful for.