Summertime can be a season when laziness becomes almost respectable. Read a book on the porch. Take a nap in the lawn chair. Stroll in the sun. Sip an icy fresh glass of lemonade. Visit your summertime flowers in various corners of the yard… the ones the deer haven’t already eaten. I enjoy doing all those things as well as savoring fresh blueberries, courtesy of my wonderful friend Ann; devouring corn on the cob from my favorite farm; sniffing roses and fresh-mown hay. Summertime is a chance to slow down.
But summertime is also a season for ACTION! It's hanging out at the library auction, a gift from the dedicated volunteers who annually produce a herculean amount of work, not only to support the library but also to unify the community. Summer means supporting local churches with their ice cream socials. It's visiting the animals at Hillside Farms or adopting a new pet from Blue Chip. Summertime InSide the Back Mountain is weddings, dances, fireworks, games of golf, rides around the lake, Vacation Bible Schools, summer sports, summer camp at Camp Orchard Hill or the JCC Camp and the return of the Back Mountain Triathlon! It's truly a season of intense activity which often includes staying cool by playing in WATER!
When I painted the watercolor of children swimming and playing on the floating dock, I was challenged to create the look of sparkling water without using any white paint, as well as depicting backlighting which rendered the skin tones as very deep, shadowed hues. As I painted, I relived all my childhood afternoons many decades ago spent playing on the floating dock in Orange with my cousins and other neighborhood kids after a day picking strawberries for ten cents a quart at a local farm. We worked hard, squatting and crawling along the strawberry rows in the hot sun. Then we played hard, loosening our stiff muscles with lots of exercise in the cool farm pond water. We had no nice, smooth ladder with handrails as depicted in “Floating Dock.” Our raft was rough planks, complete with a few splinters, lashed to the top of four old empty oil drums now filled only with air. We hauled ourselves topside with maneuvers akin to mountain climbing, complete with many grunts and groans! Ahhh, the heavenly memories!
The watercolor I titled “Crayfish Hunt” also brought back memories! Although I personally found the little beasties quite repulsive, most of my other childhood playmates always enjoyed the search. I loved painting the reflections in the water most of all!
The image for the creation of the oil painting of the boys playing along the edge of the river with the old tire inner-tube resulted from a river paddle! My friend Peggy and I were in her canoe just above Tunkhannock after a long, hot, wonderful day on the river when I noticed some activity along the shoreline river right. The boys were apparently enjoying the water by taking turns gliding through some river riffles. The sight of that old inner-tube brought back MANY memories of swimming in various farm ponds InSide the Back Mountain in the 1950s! It was critical to keep the inner tube nozzle pointed down, never up, because they could hurt like the blazes! It was just as important to NEVER put your feet down onto the muck at the bottom, which might include dangerous tin cans in the days before recycling, and remember to stay at the opposite end of the pond from where an occasional water snake had been spotted. Ahhhh… the good old days!
Water is an extremely critical component. Did you know that 75% of the human brain is water? And 75% of each living tree is water! Water regulates the temperature of the earth and the temperature of our bodies. The water we drink carries nutrients and oxygen to our cells. It cushions our joints, protects our organs and tissues, removes wastes, helps maintain a healthy body weight, and aids our digestion. And… water is just plain FUN to play in during the summertime!
Whether our water source for fun is a creek, pond, lake, river, kiddie pool, full size in-ground swimming pool, hose, slip “n” slide, or spray bottle, water in hot weather is a source of rejuvenation! Games like pool ping pong, liquid limbo, or water tag all work to cool the body, exercise the muscles, and cheer the mind and soul! As an artist, as well as a great-grandparent, just watching children enjoy our local waters cheers my soul! What is your favorite water activity or memory?
This article originally appeared in the July 2023 publication of InSide the Back Mountain.