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Summer on Fourth Street

As a little girl I'd look forward to hot summer days spent running through sprinklers, hiding behind trees, laying on freshly cut grass in wet bathing suits while waiting to hear the old, cheery tune from the ice cream truck as it turned onto my block.

All the Fourth Street kids would jolt up at once to chase the sounds of the "ice cream man." Bare feet trampling sizzling cement, eyes wide and animated, arms outstretched as though we could catch hold of the truck before it missed us.

Mouths camouflaged in blues, browns and reds, hands sticky and lips smiling. Our attention would then be turned to the sidewalk where the cracks in the cement were lava and if we happened to step on them, we'd be dead. We would hop from one spot to the next to avoid our burning demise and when we all eventually fell into the boiling magma, we'd grab our bikes to chase down the sunset.

Wind at our hair, leftover sweets on our cheeks and warmth on our faces, we were united in our quest to make the most of a single, summer day. I remember days felt like weeks and a whole summer could be compared to the length of a year. Every moment spent living, observing, playing, imagining, being.

Night would come and we'd run through backyards playing man hunt or ding dong ditch. Hiding behind bushes and daring one another to breach into the dangerous terrain of the scary neighbor's front stoop.

We soaked up every moment before curfew as though it were our last. Lying in bed at night, we'd eagerly fall asleep in anticipation for waking up faster to the next day.

I wonder now, how it is for kids, growing up in a world where games are on screens, friends are through phones and connections are virtual.

Do they know how an oak tree's bark feels against the palms of their hands?

Can they feel the summer breeze at their skin when riding their bikes as fast as they can?

Are they aware of their magical ability to slow down time and freeze it in a day?

How they create adventure through the power of their minds?

I hope so.

Sometimes I think that's what we're missing as adults - the freedom and permission to play, imagine, roam, and take on new experiences through our minds will.

Maybe then, we'd understand that time doesn't pass us by, it's we who pass the time forgetting the child within.

Maybe then we'd know that days can still feel like weeks, and summers still like years, if only we'd put down our distractions, take in our surroundings, breathe in the green, balmy air, and listen to the cricket's hymn.

We didn't lose our magic when we grew up, we simply forgot to look for it.


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