I love Summertime, both the season and the song.  I’ve never heard a bad version of it, but Doc Watson’s is my favorite.       

        I don’t know how it is up North, but here in the South it is a regular heat wave.  As the old bluegrass joke goes, it is so hot when the dog chases the cat both of ’em are walking. 

        I expect even the frozen tundra has thawed out.

        But unless this global warming thing goes any further, I’ll have to say I still love summer.  When we were kids we’d get up and throw on a pair of shorts and spend the whole day outside.  Sunscreen had not been invented.  (Which is why I go to the Dermatologist once a year now.)  We weren’t poor, and had plenty of money for shoes, but we went barefoot just ’cause we wanted to.

        Near the house there was an abandoned field where we played ball.  At the end of the field there was a “cliff.” (When I went back to look last year it turned out to be but a small incline.)  After you got nine or so and could hit a home run every time, you had to bat left handed.  Once you could hit ’em over left handed you got to go out for Little League.  One of our best players was a girl, and they wouldn’t let her try out.  I didn’t understand why.  She couldn’t hit it quite as far, but she was an excellent fielder.  For us it was a democratic game.  Everyone had different skill levels, but we all got to play. 

        As we got older, and there were more home runs, we’d often lose the ball in the honeysuckle vines on the hillside of the “cliff.”  That honeysuckle smelled sweeter than perfume.  There was also a blackberry patch, and we’d eat wild blackerries and honeysuckle while we searched for the ball.  We had to find it, ’cause we only had one, so the game would not resume till we did.  And if you cracked a bat, you’d nail it back together and then wrap it real tight with black tape to get to the end of the season.  The kids who play ball now carry an assortment of equipment in those pro duffel bags miss a bunch of fun.  We never lacked for a thing, but could not be that extravagant and had to make do. 

        After we got older we could go to the Park to swim, and I think it cost about a dime.  They had a chain link fence right in the middle of the pool to cordon off the deep end.  I guess we had some emergencies, but I don’t remember that anyone ever drowned. 

        Then we got into golf.  It was an extra fifty cents but you could play all day for that.  We didn’t know how to hold the club, much less play.  The only good player we knew was Arnie on T.V. and we all tried to swing like him, but none of us got that good.  We dug the game out of the dirt the best we could figure.

        For me summer is bluegrass music, and home made ice cream.  It is pretty girls (though now I only I answer to two, my wife and daughter) and Nat King Cole (“Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer”) and Al Hirt (“Java”) on the hi-fi all one summer. 

        At this age, I like summer ’cause old bones and muscles loosen up and the golf ball flies a little further, and it is still all music and laziness.  It used to be the whole town shut down for Wednesday afternoon.  That tradition has died out, but we still don’t work as hard in the summer, even in the doctor business.

        I tried the best I could to make summer that way for my kids in spite of this crazy modern world, and when I have grandchildren I think I’m gonna be worse.  I see it as my responsibility to make sure they know about honeysuckle vines and home-made ice cream.  And I want to teach ’em a little mandolin or banjo.  It wouldn’t be fitting to grow up in the South any other way.

Dr. B

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12 Comments on “Summertime”

  1. Cindy Carter Says:

    You forgot the home made ice cream that was hand cranked and watermellon so cold it made your teeth hurt. We used to come in at night and the only thing “white” about us was the whites of our eyes. My mom would open the door in the morning and shove us outside.

  2. amberfireinus Says:

    One of the things I missed most about living away from California is the sweet smell of Jasmine that perfumes the air all summer long. There is nothing like that smell to me. I just love it. Now that i have my own home I have alot of it planted. It’s smell takes me to heaven.

    Where we live now, we are surrounded by farms. My husband absolutely loves icecream, so I am thinking about investing in an icecream maker. We had one in England and came up with some beauties.

    In the summer as children we would play by our local creek.. It was an unincorporated bit of land that was forested. So much fun was had there. No shoes, catching crawdads. Ah… those were the days!

  3. whodoesshethinksheisanyway Says:

    What a great post Doc! I love summer time too! We are working on our 4th day in a row of 90+ degree heat around here and I am in my glory!
    I still do most of the summer time things I did as a kid. Our space was limited so we played whiffle ball. You could hit the runner with the ball for an out, got one base on an overthrow, and a ball in the willow tree was an automatic home run. I usually pitched and could (and still can) make that ball do anything I want. I always let the kids get a hit off me but the adults often go down on strikes.
    Thanks for taking me back!
    – Auntie

  4. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Cindy,

    Exactly right. We kids would turn the crank until it got too hard to turn. Then my Uncle would take over. We knew the ice cream was about ready when he stepped in.

    I was disappointed when we got the first electric one. My dad was a country doc, and he didn’t like it either. “The thing sounds like it is in labor,” he complained, and everyone laughed. I didn’t know what he meant.

    Dr. B

  5. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Amber,

    I have heard of jasmine all my life, but I am ashamed to admit I don’t know what it smells like. Where all does it grow?

    They say folks from when I grew up remember the smells of cut grass or honeysuckle, but the kids nowadays identify with something like Vicks Vapo-Rub. That is sad if it is true.

    Dr. B

  6. drtombibey Says:


    I expect I’d chose you for my team any day!

    I’ve seen your baseball pics- I love it too. The last time I went to a big league game it was still reasonable in price. The thing I like about baseball is it forces everyone to work together. One guy has an arm, another can hit, another is fast, etc. Unlike the platoon system in football, everyone has to play the whole game, so you have to figure out how to make the team work the best you can.

    Dr. B

  7. mrschili Says:

    Summer is, by far, my favorite time of year. I don’t even mind the heat so much (though I’m glad, given that I and my family are very fair, that we’ve got that sunscreen thing figured out).

    For me, summer is about releasing responsibilities. I love just going to a friend’s house – or having them come here – and grilling burgers. Sitting around with a drink (high-test or not, doesn’t matter) and just enjoying the feel of the air on our skin. I love the smells, I love the sounds, I love the feel of summer.

  8. drtombibey Says:


    Burgers on the grill and a big ole pitcher of sweet tea where the ice cubes are half melted and the condensation beads up on the outside of the glass- can’t beat it.

    We are Scotch Irish and sunscreen is a staple of life for us too.

    Dr. B

  9. pandemonic Says:

    You’re right, Dr. The tundra has thawed. That’s why I haven’t been online much. I’ve been out in the yard. And writing… 🙂

  10. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Pande,

    Yeah this time of year I try to stay outside as much as I can too.

    Still on track for a rough draft by the end of the year, though. Hope you are coming along to suit you on your project.

    Dr. B

  11. Vana Roth Says:

    Yep…it’s finally thawed out up in mid-Michigan as well! As I’m writing this, I’m watching two baby deer play in the tall ferns. What wonderful memories of growing up. Life and pleasures sure seemed a lot less complicated than they are today. It’s wonderful to remember and share those experiences.

  12. drtombibey Says:

    Yep Ms. Vana. For me, it is hard to beat the summer. Life has gotten mighty complicated but in the summer it seems I find a bit more time to relax.

    Dr. B

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