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June has always been magical. It’s open window season in the Midwest. The perfect offering after a long thaw and elusive spring. When the fresh breeze meanders in, a deep breath is all it takes for the good times to flood back. Summertime childhood memories are as ubiquitous as lake days in Minnesota. The best spent, though, were the endless days in Grandma’s woods. This time of year has me reminiscing, “Remember when . . .”

Cool mornings gave way to warm afternoons, blue skies, plump clouds, and to a small child, endless time.

Summer lasted forever. 

The crunch of bike tires on gravel and cousin banter was music amidst tall pines. The only argument was a playful one: what color bowl would each receive when Grandma scooped rocky road ice cream later? Those little cereal bowls served many a grandkid, and we all had our favorite.

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Cottonwood seeds effortlessly floated in the air. If you caught one in a single grasp, you were lucky enough to make a wish. We knew enough not to speak it aloud. It was just like blowing out a birthday candle. 

Lemonade stand money was saved for two important seasonal events: the county fair and a trip to the Trading Post. There one could purchase 10-cent candy sticks, any flavor you could imagine. When I close my eyes, I can picture the interior of the building and take in its distinctive smell. A mix of cinnamon and cedar, and genuine anticipation, if that could be detected by senses. 

Strawberries grew wild alongside Grandma’s driveway. Though small, our excitement when they were discovered was huge. It seemed as if they appeared only that morning. Busy with play, little eyes failed to notice yesterday. No harm, it offered a wonderful finding for that morning. We ate them as fast as we picked thema treat even better than candy sticks if one could believe it. No question the berries grew just for us. As if the universe knew cousins would gather that exact week in June.

A grateful favor from the earth whispering gratitude for purely enjoying time together. 

It’s no wonder I was transformed back to 6-year-old me when the discovery of weeds overtaking our garden box was a strawberry patch.  

My daughter’s eyes were aglow with wonder. Her little, learning hands gently plucked a ripe strawberry. Mama showed her how. An innocent and delighted, “Oh, wow!” left her mouth as she finished it. Her tiny fingertips stained pink as she asked for more. 

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New memories are being made to carry with me now. Someday I’ll ask my husband, “Remember when her hand could wrap around your single finger? Remember when she spent the entire afternoon in her plastic pool? Remember when we explored the state park as a family? Remember when she skipped to the strawberry patch all on her own?”

I pray my daughter has her own remember whens to create and look back on fondly someday, and that the simplicity of shared times with loved ones is her most comforting. In the meantime, I’ll treasure each experience I’m granted with my not-yet 2-year-old.

Summer does last forever . . . if only in our recollections. Every good memory is precious, and I believe the sweetest memories were formed in summer. Simply like wild strawberries at Grandma’s. 

Originally published on the author’s Instagram page

Emily Waletich

Former teacher and aspiring writer adventuring with her husband, young daughter, and two dogs in Minnesota and beyond.

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