Summer Memories Series-Part 10

20 Aug

summer memories

Part 10 of our Summer Memories Series is brought to us by

Rhonda Kronyk of Pro Editing Services.

I was born in Williams Lake, a small town in central British Columbia. The primary industry was, and still is, logging. Summers were hot and dusty. Parts of central B.C. are semi-arid. We grew up with the smell of sagebrush blooming in the summer and cacti ready to surprise us when we sat down for a break.

Summers were for the stampede and rodeos, trips to visit family, sleepovers, swimming at the lake, camping, and barbeques.

Until I turned 9, we live 5 miles out of town in a small cluster of houses. My aunt and uncle lived on one side, a great-aunt and great-uncle on the other. They both had neighbours on either side of them.

This small community of five houses sounds isolated, but we never saw it that way. We lived towards the bottom of a mountain and had the kind of freedom that many kids today can only dream of.

Imaging running out the door after breakfast with your brother, sister, cousins, neighbourhood friends, and attendant dogs. You might come back at lunchtime if you got really hungry. Or, if you were my brother and sister, you would fill up on the wild onions that grew all over the mountain.

We were a tad feral on those long, hot summer days. My little sister was the tree-climbing champ; we all poked sticks in the huge red ant nests and watched them swarm over the ground to find the threat; we played hide-and-seek and tag; annoyed the chickens; watched the horses; and simply got the chance to be kids. And none of us knew how to be quiet.

My favourite memories of that home involve the train tracks. We lived on a dusty logging road, so most of the traffic that passed our house was logging trucks. On the other side of the road was a grassy meadow with a single set of tracks running through it. Freight trains ran along those tracks several times a day.

train caboose

The engineer usually blew the whistle for us and the conductor almost always waved from the windows or back deck of the red caboose. I think the reason I miss seeing that beloved caboose goes back to those memories.

We loved putting coins on the tracks so the wheels of the train would flatten them. We always had a small collection of strangely misshapen coins.

But, the best times along those tracks were the many hours we spent walking them. We used to go on regular family walks. We would walk the gravel edge of the railbed, balance on the polished steel tracks themselves, or skip along the center boards.

train tracks to nowhere

I still have a healthy respect for trains that I learned on those walks. These were often quiet times – if you were too noisy, you risked being surprised by a train. We learned to listen for the vibration of the train by putting our ear to the rails. We always knew what side of the track the group would exit on if a train came upon us. This wasn’t a time for grandstanding, it was time for being a family.

Those walks were an integral part of my early childhood. We really talked – there were no cell phones or tablets or any other distractions. Walks were for grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and my immediate family. And they tended to be long. There was nowhere we had to be at the end of our walk so there was rarely any need to rush. When we finished walking one way, we climbed the bank to the logging road and walked back home.

It’s such a cliché, but the summers spent on that mountain were idyllic. We were surrounded by family and friends. I would have preferred hiding inside and reading to running around like a hellion, but I still have good memories of those long, hot, lazy days in a town I haven’t lived in for over 30 years.

pro editor rhonda

Rhonda is a freelance writer and editor, mother of a 24-year-old son, owner of a dog named Sprout, and blogger who writes about what it means to be a writer.

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