Summer vacations

Published 4:10 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The season of summer means different things to people. Around here it might mean walking outside and thinking the whole world is a sauna. The combination of heat and humidity can make even the early morning air heavy and warm.

Some people in our locale might equate summer with gnats. If you see someone outside and you think they are practicing some sort of martial arts with their swinging arms, not true. They are simply swatting at gnats, and I might add, with great futility. I don’t think I have yet harmed a gnat with my hands, but I have swallowed one or two!

When I was growing up on the farm, the season of summer meant lots of work to do. I’ve mentioned the crop of tobacco many times and how it was the “tail that wagged the dog.” For the first couple of months of summer, June and July, it was the main focus of summer work.

Tobacco may have been planted in the spring, but it reached its maturity in June. Sometimes the plant would grow to a height of six feet and, all along the stalk, there were leaves to crop or pull, as they ripened. As they turned from dark green to a lighter color, that’s what we called ripening.

The leaves were pulled from the stalk from bottom to top at about three or four leaves at the time for six or seven weeks. If Mother Nature stalled in her ripening of the leaves, even for a few days, it was then, and only then, that we farm folks might get what the city folks called a vacation.

Daddy might go to the field and, even though no planning had occurred, might come home and say to momma, “The tobacco is green. If you want to take a vacation, get packed and let’s go.”

I read in an article on vacations that, in our nation today, we Americans will spend over $100 billion on vacations this year. Plus, the average family, whatever that means, will spend about $2,000 on their vacations.

I can assure anyone who reads this that our family, when daddy said, “If you want to take a vacation, get packed,” did not have a couple of thousand dollars to spend on a vacation. I would venture to guess, even though the family finances were not shared with me, daddy and momma might have had a couple of hundred to spend. It might have been half that.

At the same time, we didn’t need $2,000 for a three day—two night excursion to Wilson’s Beach, a few miles below Panacea. Those few cabins amidst the sandspurs and sea oats might have cost $15 per night at the most.

For food, there was no panoply of eateries. The same place where the rental of the cabin took place sold bread, chips, soft drinks, and sandwich meats to go along with its shelf of plastic beach toys. Wilson’s Beach was no resort, unless, of course, you might call it what we “resorted” to when a few days off presented themselves.

Summer vacations were simple for most folks back in the day. I’m sure even our few days of getting away from the summer farm work was more than others got. So, I’m thankful that I have the memories of those few times when we did have a summer vacation.

I’m not jealous of today’s vacations. Our world is such a rat race, I encourage times of rest and relaxation. But, to tell the truth, I would have a hard time resting and relaxing if I knew I was spending $2,000 all in one week!